A Breath Too Late
For fans of Girl in Pieces, All the Bright Places, and Girl, Interrupted comes a haunting and breathtaking YA contemporary debut novel that packs a powerful message: hope can be found in the darkness.Seventeen-year-old Ellie had no hope left. Yet the day after she dies by suicide, she finds herself in the midst of an out-of-body experience. She is a spectator, swaying between past and present, retracing the events that unfolded prior to her death.But there are gaps in her memory, fractured pieces Ellie is desperate to re-assemble. There's her mother, a songbird who wanted to break free from her oppressive cage. The boy made of brushstrokes and goofy smiles who brought color into a gray world. Her brooding father, with his sad puppy eyes and clenched fists. Told in epistolary-like style, this deeply moving novel sensitively examines the beautiful and terrible moments that make up a life and the possibilities that live in even the darkest of places. Perfect for fans of the critically-acclaimed Speak, I’ll Give You the Sun, and If I Stay.

A Breath Too Late Details

TitleA Breath Too Late
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 28th, 2020
PublisherHenry Holt and Co. (BYR)
ISBN-139781250238795
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult

A Breath Too Late Review

  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    I was really looking forward to this, but it wasn't what I expected at all. Yes, it is a book about a girl regretting her own suicide, but I feel like the vast majority of it is actually about domestic abuse and about Ellie's mom more or less keeping them in a situation where their lives are being threatened constantly and they face almost daily violence from Ellie's dad. As a domestic abuse survivor myself, I usually find stories like this cathartic and releasing, if that makes sense, but... I was really looking forward to this, but it wasn't what I expected at all. Yes, it is a book about a girl regretting her own suicide, but I feel like the vast majority of it is actually about domestic abuse and about Ellie's mom more or less keeping them in a situation where their lives are being threatened constantly and they face almost daily violence from Ellie's dad. As a domestic abuse survivor myself, I usually find stories like this cathartic and releasing, if that makes sense, but... *sigh* I wish I could come up with the right words to explain why this entire abuse depiction felt so exploitative and uncomfortable to me.Beyond that, what I can put into words is how much this author's writing style doesn't agree with me. There are almost no contractions in the narrative or dialogue and the characters constantly phrase things in clunky, stilted ways that makes the entire reading experience flow poorly. There's a lot of potential in Callen's writing, but I do believe this book needed more editing and polishing.I feel somewhat guilty for giving this book 2 stars, because the author's heart was clearly in a good place and I appreciate the attempt that was made here. That said, between the unenjoyable narrative voice and the unnecessarily constant barrage of violence and abuse... I can't recommend this book. I'm also going to be painfully honest here and say that, as another individual who has dealt with depression and suicidal ideation since I was a preteen, nothing about Ellie's story would have deterred me or given me hope to keep fighting. If anything, I think it would have made me feel even more bleak and miserable, and I'm honestly struggling a bit as I type this with the terrible mood A Breath Too Late put me in. And with that, I'm going to finish this review and go find something to focus on that's not quite so devastating.Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Nenia ❤️️ I hate everything you love ❤️️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Ugh, just reading the synopsis already makes me feel sad.Really hope this isn't another 13 Reasons Why....
  • Sierra Elmore
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to read a very early version of this story, and I still remember how beautiful and wonderful and haunting it is. Rocky's crafted a beautiful story, and I can't wait to see the final version!
  • A.J.
    January 1, 1970
    I received a physical ARC of this book as part of the Roaring 20s Debut group ARC tour. My opinion is my own and I am under no obligation to write this review.Equal parts beautiful and devastating, A BREATH TOO LATE is not an easy book to read, but I absolutely believe it'll be a lifesaver to many.Told from the perspective of Ellie Walker, a high school senior who's just committed suicide yet still lingers in her old home and around the people she used to know, there are no magic tricks to this I received a physical ARC of this book as part of the Roaring 20s Debut group ARC tour. My opinion is my own and I am under no obligation to write this review.Equal parts beautiful and devastating, A BREATH TOO LATE is not an easy book to read, but I absolutely believe it'll be a lifesaver to many.Told from the perspective of Ellie Walker, a high school senior who's just committed suicide yet still lingers in her old home and around the people she used to know, there are no magic tricks to this story, no moments where Ellie breaks through the barrier of death and is able to touch people from her past life. I almost wanted there to be, if only to provide some comfort to the people grieving for her (and to myself as a reader). But Rocky Callen's story would have likely lost some of its impact if it'd resorted to a fabulist gimmick like that. Instead, readers know in no uncertain terms that Ellie is gone. She doesn't get a second chance, or even a last ghostly word with her parents or close friend August. What's done is done, even if she regrets it now.And that, I think, is what makes this story so impactful. It's the permanency of Ellie's decision that hits me the hardest as someone who struggled with depression when I was her age. I very well could have made a similar decision to Ellie at sixteen (or, more accurately, my attempt could have succeeded like Ellie's did and then I wouldn't be here now writing this). At that moment in my life, I wanted nothing more than relief from my emotional pain. With a decade and a half of hindsight, however, I'm so grateful for the life I've gotten to live--even the hard, painful parts that were overwhelming to experience.You may not have that perspective as a teenager, which is why A BREATH TOO LATE is such a critical read. It illustrates so well how permanent a decision like this is, on top of shining a light on the toll domestic abuse can take on every victim.A BREATH TOO LATE is a stellar read that I would recommend to anyone, with a caveat: make sure you're in a good place emotionally before diving into this because its gorgeous prose comes with a heavy dose of reality.
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  • Isabella (The Feminist Bookworm)
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This is the first book in 5+ years that made me cry. It was absolutely devastating but incredibly beautiful.The best way to describe this book is that the main character is in the same predicament as Mia in If I Stay, except that she is actually dead. The main character is Ellie, who has recently dies by suicide. She finds herself essentially a ghost still on earth, right beside her family and friends. The book itself is written in an epistolary format to a variety of different people and Wow. This is the first book in 5+ years that made me cry. It was absolutely devastating but incredibly beautiful.The best way to describe this book is that the main character is in the same predicament as Mia in If I Stay, except that she is actually dead. The main character is Ellie, who has recently dies by suicide. She finds herself essentially a ghost still on earth, right beside her family and friends. The book itself is written in an epistolary format to a variety of different people and not-people. The letters are directed to her mother, her father, and her friend August, but also to life, death, life, and darkness, as Ellie attempts to make sense of her life and how she got to where she is now. To be honest, I'm not doing a good job of explaining it, so I'll be clear: the letters are NOT suicide notes, they are written by her in death as she copes with her own death.This book was so beautiful and yet so devastating. The prose is absolutely gorgeous -- just read the Goodreads summary, as that is reminiscent of the novel's prose. My heart broke while reading this book, and I know that it is going to change lives and help people in need from taking their own breath too late, and it will also help the loved ones of those in need.TW: suicide, domestic violence
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  • Katherine Hardisty
    January 1, 1970
    I don't quite know how to review this book because it left me speechless. I'll start off that there are some triggers. TRIGGERS: Domestic violence, abuse, depression, suicideBut wow did this book need to be written. It follows the story of Ellie who witnesses the lives of those she knew after she commits suicide. It is written as letters as she follows the threads of her life that led her to take her own life. Rocky Callen weaves a BEAUTIFUL tale of love, loss, and hope in the face of so much I don't quite know how to review this book because it left me speechless. I'll start off that there are some triggers. TRIGGERS: Domestic violence, abuse, depression, suicideBut wow did this book need to be written. It follows the story of Ellie who witnesses the lives of those she knew after she commits suicide. It is written as letters as she follows the threads of her life that led her to take her own life. Rocky Callen weaves a BEAUTIFUL tale of love, loss, and hope in the face of so much darkness. Her atmospheric prose and vivid, honest imagery made this book difficult to put down. It is a difficult to walk the line of pain and hope, but Callen danced on that tightrope like a seasoned circus performer. For anyone suffering from those triggers mentioned above, I honestly recommend this book. Find a friend or trusted adult who will read it with you, if you like. Take it in chunks, but know that by the end of Ellie's story, my heart was both broken and healed. Callen paints a picture with her words like the boy in her story, like Ellie on her shoes that shows how beautiful the world really is. This book and this author are now absolute auto-buys in my opinion.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    A Breath Too Late is a heartbreaking, moving, intense, yet beautifully written novel about a young teen, Ellie Walker, who, after years of living in an abusive home situation, ends her life during her senior year of high school.The novel begins when the spirit of Ellie relives her life as it unfolded prior to her death. Through this experience, she is able to come to an understanding of not only her thoughts and feelings, but also those of her mother and her close friend, August. She comes to A Breath Too Late is a heartbreaking, moving, intense, yet beautifully written novel about a young teen, Ellie Walker, who, after years of living in an abusive home situation, ends her life during her senior year of high school.The novel begins when the spirit of Ellie relives her life as it unfolded prior to her death. Through this experience, she is able to come to an understanding of not only her thoughts and feelings, but also those of her mother and her close friend, August. She comes to regret her decision after seeing the effect her suicide has on those she loved, as well as seeing the possibilities that were open to her. Unfortunately she was unable to see them at the time because of her overwhelming feelings of despair and depression.This book is heart wrenching and difficult to read because of the subject matter. As a result, it may not be a good choice for some readers. However, the topic of teen suicide is dealt with in a thought provoking and sensitive manner. At the end of the novel, author Rocky Callen gives very helpful resources for anyone dealing with suicidal thoughts.Thank you to author Rocky Callen, Henry Holt and Company, and Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this book.
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  • Ashleigh
    January 1, 1970
    Heartbreakingly tragic but beautifully render.I have never been so emotionally battered by a book.
  • Nicole Kronzer
    January 1, 1970
    A BREATH TOO LATE is heartbreakingly wonderful. I teach high school English and creative writing, and whenever a book with suicide themes comes up, I worry for my students and how suicide can become glorified. Our district was named a suicide contagion zone a number of years agothis is an issue that is always on my heart and mind. This book acknowledges and names without glorifyingits a remarkable feat. I love the two timelines. The characters are believable and I feel so much for all of them. I A BREATH TOO LATE is heartbreakingly wonderful. I teach high school English and creative writing, and whenever a book with suicide themes comes up, I worry for my students and how suicide can become glorified. Our district was named a “suicide contagion zone” a number of years ago—this is an issue that is always on my heart and mind. This book acknowledges and names without glorifying—it’s a remarkable feat. I love the two timelines. The characters are believable and I feel so much for all of them. I cried and cried.
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  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    2 STARSEllie wakes up dead after committing suicide. She watches as her mother and best friend August mourn. Regretting her choice, she begins each chapter addressing a person or thing, trying to figure out why she killed herself.Rocky Callen pens beautiful pose, words that were a pleasure to read, despite the bleak nature of A BREATH TOO LATE. Dark books are among my favorites to read, but I didnt connect with Ellie and her story. Callen starts with a preface that she wanted to write a boom 2 STARSEllie wakes up dead after committing suicide. She watches as her mother and best friend August mourn. Regretting her choice, she begins each chapter addressing a person or thing, trying to figure out why she killed herself.Rocky Callen pens beautiful pose, words that were a pleasure to read, despite the bleak nature of A BREATH TOO LATE. Dark books are among my favorites to read, but I didn’t connect with Ellie and her story. Callen starts with a preface that she wanted to write a boom that would have helped her as a teen and urges depressed and suicidal readers to reach out. She wanted to show Ellie’s regret as a deterrent against committing suicide. I don’t think she achieved that goal. I think the book has a greater chance of romanticizing suicide by how deeply her mother and August are pained.As Ellie goes back over her life her relationship with August and the domestic violence she and her father endure, her only joy in life seemed to be August, though she claimed to want to become a writer.A BREATH TOO LATE has been my biggest disappointment of 2020 to date, though Callen is a writer I will look for in the future. Despite beautiful writing, I wouldn’t recommend this book and certainly not to depressed clients because of the potential of glamorizing the regret people feel after her suicide.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.OK-full disclosure, I finished this book a week ago and I am STILL thinking about it. I have struggled a bit with writing a review, not because I didn't know what to say (it's amazing, it's impactful, it's important) but that I wasn't sure I was going to say what needs to be said about this book in a way that would convince others to read it. Because you need to. Trust me Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.OK-full disclosure, I finished this book a week ago and I am STILL thinking about it. I have struggled a bit with writing a review, not because I didn't know what to say (it's amazing, it's impactful, it's important) but that I wasn't sure I was going to say what needs to be said about this book in a way that would convince others to read it. Because you need to. Trust me on this. You do. It will leave you breathless and angry and sad and heartbroken. But you need to read it. Ellie has died by suicide. This happens in the first chapter. The rest of the book is written as a series of letters to the things and people she left behind (Dear momma, Dear father, Dear life, Dear . . . ) as Ellie struggles to comes to terms with what has happened to herself. Because, you see, at first she doesn't realize she has actually died. And as the memories come flooding back, and as she watches the world she left behind try to make sense of a life without her, she begins to realize how much she didn't understand. And how much she regrets her choices. It is this regret that coats the entire story and gives it its power. You can taste it on your tongue, heavy and bitter and ashy, throughout. You know how the story turns out, because it happens at the beginning. But with the regret choking your throat, you hope for a miracle. You hope for a turn of fantasy or whimsy. You hope it's just like in It's a Wonderful Life and we will all wake up at the end. But this is real life. And Callen's debut novel showcases this in all of beautiful brutality. Highly recommend. This is a first purchase type of book for all collections serving young adult patrons. Recommended for grades 9 and up.
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  • Dante
    January 1, 1970
    When I first read the description for A BREATH TOO LATE by Rocky Callen, I knew it was one of those books that I would feel in my soul. I wasn't wrong. The book is about a seventeen year old girl named Ellie who, after dying by suicide, finds herself stuck. Stuck in memories, stuck in depression, and stuck in the aftermath of a world where she no longer lives and is forced to watch the people around her process their grief. I've lost people to this disease. It's a subject that always hits home, When I first read the description for A BREATH TOO LATE by Rocky Callen, I knew it was one of those books that I would feel in my soul. I wasn't wrong. The book is about a seventeen year old girl named Ellie who, after dying by suicide, finds herself stuck. Stuck in memories, stuck in depression, and stuck in the aftermath of a world where she no longer lives and is forced to watch the people around her process their grief. I've lost people to this disease. It's a subject that always hits home, but this one felt special. The cover of this book is so haunting and lovely. The beautiful pinks and purples, the starry details, and the face that disappears to make place for stars. The book itself, written in an epistolary format features letters written from Ellie to everyone in her life from her mother, to her lifelong friend August, Depression, and even Death. It follows not only Ellie watching her loved ones grieve, but also dives into her memories as she pieces together the every moment that brought her there. The subject of the story might be heart breaking, but Callen's prose truly stand out. This is a book full of highlight-worthy lines. I found myself stopping to reread entire letters because of the way they hit me. I cried and cried for Ellie's mother. For Ellie. For what could have been. You'd think a book like this would end on a note that felt hopeless. A girl lost her life. There is no coming back from that and you learn this on page one. But this book didn't feel hopeless in the end. It felt like a lifeline hug. A promise.
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    I am crying. These tears are for her mother and August, the two people who loved her, and were her lights in the darkness. I am shedding tears for Ellie, and the possibilities she'll never experience. Obviously, a book about a teen, who dies by suicide is sad, but it was also a reminded to look for those pockets of light and hope. Full review to follow*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Carolyn Stover
    January 1, 1970
    Suicide takes the life of 17 year old Ellie. Instead of moving on she stays and relives parts of her life and witnesses the aftermath. Haunting and beautifully written. I think every book gives us something, new knowledge, new perspectives, happiness, etc. Depression and domestic abuse are very real. What this book gave me is a determination to listen more closely, dig a little deeper and be more aware of what friends and people I interact with may be going through.
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    10/15/19 - I can tell this will be triggering for me, but I want to read it to give me hope on my bad days.
  • Susan Ballard
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 ⭐*Trigger warnings: suicide, physical abuse, depression. (This review will mention these issues as well).This isnt the first Young Adult book to be about suicide, and it wont be the last. It is an all too common theme in YA novels, and a sad reality. So what makes A Breath Too Late worth reading? Its brutally honest and raw. It does not glamorize suicide, in fact just the opposite. Seventeen-year-old Ellie has just taken her own life when she awakes in a state of limbo. Not fully aware of 4.5 ⭐️*Trigger warnings: suicide, physical abuse, depression. (This review will mention these issues as well).This isn’t the first Young Adult book to be about suicide, and it won’t be the last. It is an all too common theme in YA novels, and a sad reality. So what makes A Breath Too Late worth reading? It’s brutally honest and raw. It does not glamorize suicide, in fact just the opposite. Seventeen-year-old Ellie has just taken her own life when she “awakes” in a state of limbo. Not fully aware of what happened, she begins to realize she has the ability to still look in on the life she chose to leave. Ellie is now a spectator to the devastation she has left behind.Momma - now curled in a ball clutching a teddy bear - Ellie’s childhood teddy bear. They were going to fly away together one day, to the mountains, to be free from - him. But now Ellie’s gone.August - the boy whose art always brightened her dark days. His smile took away her pain if only for a moment. Now Ellie watches as August smashes bottles and cries out her name as he falls into his mom’s arms.Rocky Callen does a great job of showing that Ellie had times of happiness over her life even though she lived in a terrible environment. She had hopes and dreams, people who loved her, but depression clouded her vision and the weight felt too heavy at times.Ellie, having this rare opportunity to see other’s perspectives, now wishes she could have: one more smile, one more word, one more touch - just one more breath. There are no second chances in this story; it is a truthful look at the heart-wrenching consequences. Yet, it’s not a completely bleak story. I think it reveals that we should say the words we need to say, ask for the help we need - without shame, and always have hope for a better tomorrow. [Please be sure to read the author’s notes.] Thank you to Edelweiss+ and @henryholtbooks for this advanced copy for review. Get your copy today!
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you, NetGalley for the advanced copy of A Breath Too Late. This book was devastating and wonderful. The writing was moving and I found myself re-reading certain passages. At one point, I feared that I was going to cry my way through the entire book. Rocky Callen did a wonderful job depicting domestic violence and depression. I think what hit me the hardest was that there was no magical do-over. Ellie didn't get to wake up and be alive after she discovered that life was worth living. Her Thank you, NetGalley for the advanced copy of A Breath Too Late. This book was devastating and wonderful. The writing was moving and I found myself re-reading certain passages. At one point, I feared that I was going to cry my way through the entire book. Rocky Callen did a wonderful job depicting domestic violence and depression. I think what hit me the hardest was that there was no magical do-over. Ellie didn't get to wake up and be alive after she discovered that life was worth living. Her decision was final and there are no second chances. I think that is what makes the story so important.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars.A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen is a heartrending young adult novel that is quite poignant.Seventeen year old Ellie Walker wakes to a very different world and cannot understand what is happening to her.  She eventually discovers she is a ghost following her death by suicide the day before. Her memories of recent days are hazy while her long ago memories are intact. It is only as she begins to understand the previously unseen little things that occurred during her life that Ellie 4.5 stars.A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen is a heartrending young adult novel that is quite poignant.Seventeen year old Ellie Walker wakes to a very different world and cannot understand what is happening to her.  She eventually discovers she is a ghost following her death by suicide the day before. Her memories of recent days are hazy while her long ago memories are intact. It is only as she begins to understand the previously unseen little things that occurred during her life that Ellie begins to truly regret her decision.Each chapter is a letter addressed to the person that Ellie is viewing through her now ghostly lens. She goes back to her earliest and happiest memories of life with her mom, Regina. It is not until the sudden appearance of her father, Abel, that their life enters increasingly downward spiral as his amicable veneer is slowly stripped away as his true nature is revealed. The only bright spot in Ellie's life is her beautifully uncomplicated friendship with August Matthews.  However, in junior high, Ellie cuts her best friend out of her life and her home life becomes increasingly volatile. Reuniting as seniors in high school, Ellie veers between rejoicing in her plans for the future and the dark grip of depression and despair as her father's grip tightens on her. With her friendship with August taking an unexpected turn, Ellie descends into a pit of hopelessness that she cannot escape.As she tries to understand why she took her own life, Ellie sees little glimpses of hope that she missed at various times during her all too short life. Angry at momma for staying with her abusive husband, Ellie feels trapped and desperate to escape. Although she positively adores August, Ellie's cannot share what is happening at home nor can she trust her own judgment. As she revisits the past, will Ellie discover what lead her to such a desperate act?A Breath Too Late is an enthralling young adult novel that is impossible to put down. The characters are vibrantly developed and the storyline is thought-provoking.  Rocky Callen deftly incorporates sensitive topics such as suicide, depression and abuse into the storyline in a forthright and realistic manner. Despite the serious subject matter, the novel concludes with a ray of hope that shows positive things can occur even in the darkest moments.  I highly recommend this young adult story to older teen and adult readers.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Brian Geffen from Holt/Macmillan for providing me with an ARC.I am left bereft and hollowed out after reading Rocky Callens debut novel. As someone with mental health issues who has survived childhood trauma, Callens writing thrust me back into those uncomfortable close places of my childhood home where I couldnt breathe to the first time I realized the weight within was something called depression. Truthfully, I didnt know thats what it was until I was in my twenties. For, as Rocky Thank you to Brian Geffen from Holt/Macmillan for providing me with an ARC.I am left bereft and hollowed out after reading Rocky Callen’s debut novel. As someone with mental health issues who has survived childhood trauma, Callen’s writing thrust me back into those uncomfortable close places of my childhood home where I couldn’t breathe to the first time I realized the weight within was something called depression. Truthfully, I didn’t know that’s what it was until I was in my twenties. For, as Rocky emphasizes, many of us in these situations keep our secrets.I have read other books for young adults about mental health, including suicide, but this is shared with such raw emotion and in a unique way. It’s not a spoiler to say the protagonist, Ellie, commits suicide right on the first page and, rather than dwell on the act, Callen selects to divide the novel into letters as Ellie struggles to understands what has happened and recovers her memories. As an aspiring writer, it’s logical for Ellie to write this way and for readers to catch glimpses of who she is and the other principle characters as she tries to recover the blank spots in her life.At once moving, joyful, heartbreaking, and reverent, this is an excellent book to put in the hands of young adults as so many people are touched by mental heath, suicide, and domestic violence. An intimate introduction by the author and list of valuable resources for help are included. Highly recommended.
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  • Jennifer Acres
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.TW: abuse, domestic violence, suicideI just set down this book and it's haunting me. I will honestly never forget this story. It is both heartbreaking and hopeful, depressing and illuminating. I never thought I would read a book that is literally dealing with the aftermath of suicide and still have hope at the end.It's very triggering though, so please take care of yourself. Only read it if it's safe for you.
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  • Staci Vought
    January 1, 1970
    Whew, this one was intense. Somehow, though, I think the message is uplifting to those who are truly struggling with thoughts of suicide. I wasnt a fan of the style and how it was written at first - its very unique - but it grew on me, and now I cant imagine it being told any other way. Whew, this one was intense. Somehow, though, I think the message is uplifting to those who are truly struggling with thoughts of suicide. I wasn’t a fan of the style and how it was written at first - it’s very unique - but it grew on me, and now I can’t imagine it being told any other way.
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  • Tara Weiss
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written with cinematic detail and emotional turmoil that can only be described as elegance against adversity. Ellie's haunting story of abuse urges us to locate beauty in darkness. For anyone who has attempted to navigate the bleak, black cloud of depression, Ellie's story is a travel guide for the dark times, for finding that spark of light that could catch fire tether you to life. A poetic title hints at the fragile path of existence that can be a rallying cry to push on when a Beautifully written with cinematic detail and emotional turmoil that can only be described as elegance against adversity. Ellie's haunting story of abuse urges us to locate beauty in darkness. For anyone who has attempted to navigate the bleak, black cloud of depression, Ellie's story is a travel guide for the dark times, for finding that spark of light that could catch fire tether you to life. A poetic title hints at the fragile path of existence that can be a rallying cry to push on when a person can't shut out the pain and seeks to end their battle - it is suicide prevention presented as a song. The writing style of Rocky Callen is a windswept force all its own and the passionate prose and effervescent sparkle of imagery will make you believe that there is always hope. There is always hope. Don't find this out too late.
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  • Carol Dass
    January 1, 1970
    Devastating, yet stunning , raw, beautiful, deeply moving. Whatever I write here will not do the book justice. Seventeen year old Ellie has killed herself and shortly after finds herself at her home, with some memories missing. As she puts memories together, we realise that suicide is a permanent decision. There is always hope even though life may seem hopeless at that one moment. So beautifully written!I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are Devastating, yet stunning , raw, beautiful, deeply moving. Whatever I write here will not do the book justice. Seventeen year old Ellie has killed herself and shortly after finds herself at her home, with some memories missing. As she puts memories together, we realise that suicide is a permanent decision. There is always hope even though life may seem hopeless at that one moment. So beautifully written!I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Thamy
    January 1, 1970
    This was sweet but also intense and mellow too. A book that brought me many feelings, to be honest.We have Ellie, who committed suicide but she's still around to figure things out.3.5.You could compare it to 13 reasons why or even with If I Stay, but for me it felt different. It felt rawer somehow. I was sad at many of the passages but it felt more real, Ellie's story felt closer to my reality.The book uses a nice style of each chapter addressing a person or a thing, as we learn more about Ellie This was sweet but also intense and mellow too. A book that brought me many feelings, to be honest.We have Ellie, who committed suicide but she's still around to figure things out.3.5.You could compare it to 13 reasons why or even with If I Stay, but for me it felt different. It felt rawer somehow. I was sad at many of the passages but it felt more real, Ellie's story felt closer to my reality.The book uses a nice style of each chapter addressing a person or a thing, as we learn more about Ellie and what happened to those close to her after she took her own life. You should note we're not in the same situation as If I Stay, the book gives you no hope she could suddenly relive.I feel this was an exercise in dealing with suicide, which could be good for some, but it is still the main theme, so be warned those who'd feel triggered. I'm no expert, but I feel it was a respectful approach.It's a simple book, without pretenses, without any attempt at being grand like the two I've compared, and I think that's what I liked the most. It's what made this story so beautiful. At the same time, it's also probably forgettable. Aside from the feelings it evoked, not much from the plot called my attention. It was an enjoyable read (considering the theme), but that was it.I recommend to those into angst but not the kind that will break and stomp all over your heart. There is something of a heartwarming story beyond the theme, it's like a coming-of-age story, but for the soul of the main character. This was pretty.Honest review based on an ARC provided by Edelweiss. Many thanks to the publisher for this opportunity.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog!Thank you to Macmillan for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.WARNING: this book is extremely dark. Considering it begins with suicide, that should be evident. However, this book does not shy from providing the gruesome details of what it's like to grow up around an abusive relationship. For me, the detail around it was above and beyond what was necessary. I also understand that's my personal preference and not everyone My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog!Thank you to Macmillan for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.WARNING: this book is extremely dark. Considering it begins with suicide, that should be evident. However, this book does not shy from providing the gruesome details of what it's like to grow up around an abusive relationship. For me, the detail around it was above and beyond what was necessary. I also understand that's my personal preference and not everyone will agree. 
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  • Gina Loveless
    January 1, 1970
    This book is going to CHANGE LIVES. Rocky gives a beautiful voice to a girl who finds her life wasn't all destruction and darkness. That there was hope and love, it just never was given the air to breathe.I hate this book because I know it depicts the lives of real girls and boys in this world and I love this book because it makes me confront that these children are living terrible lives and want to find a way to keep them from their "breath too late."
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this book. It was emotional, and beautifully written
  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    Ok, now that Im done crying, I can compose my thoughts.Rocky Callen has written a wildly impactful story full of hope amidst the sadness through its elegant, poetic prose and a creative epistolary structure. While the main character, Ellie has died by suicide, this isnt a book that glorifies it nor shares specifics of how she dies. Ellie is a spirit not realizing what has happened as she visits her mama, August (childhood best friend and budding love interest), and father. She is inundated with Ok, now that I’m done crying, I can compose my thoughts.Rocky Callen has written a wildly impactful story full of hope amidst the sadness through it’s elegant, poetic prose and a creative epistolary structure. While the main character, Ellie has died by suicide, this isn’t a book that glorifies it nor shares specifics of how she dies. Ellie is a spirit not realizing what has happened as she visits her mama, August (childhood best friend and budding love interest), and father. She is inundated with memories and the effects of her choice on her loved ones as she tries to process her life and how she got here. Ellie and her mom are victims of domestic violence, both physical, mental, and emotional as her father holds them hostage by his actions and nasty threats. You can feel the suffocation, the desperation, the giving up each time. It’s nauseating, yet sobering. I will say I did not like how descriptive certain scenes were with Ellie’s father hitting them; they cut deep and it’s painful to read. They don’t feel gratuitous, more like reality. But it’s extremely hard to stomach. Because it’s like just so, so freaking real. The words that accompany slam into you as well. It’s heavy. Super heavy. I am curious to read more reviews about this aspect of the book because I’m for sure still processing. This isn’t a reason not to read the book, but a reason to read with a trusted, support network. It’s a story I felt I needed to bare witness to. Especially because some scenes were cathartic. If you’ve ever gone through any sort of abuse or depression, this book just holds you. It makes you look back on your life, the moments and the choices that have shaped your narrative (for better or worse) and I think that’s what it’s meant to do. It’s what I’m grateful that it does. I’m legit getting choked up just writing this.I really really advocate that teens reading this have someone to help process the emotions it will stir, whether they can personally relate or not. I can’t say more without spoiling the lovely scenes that make you ache for Ellie and what could have been *sobs* A small note I have to add is that I wish there was more space in the book to discuss why victims don’t reach out, especially to the police. Like there is an absolute reality that invoking the state into these matters often makes things worse and more dangerous. The book does an incredible job of subtlety showcasing how isolated Ellie and her mom are. Ellie literally has no other friends. She only ever visits August, who she stops being friends with for about 6 years (!) and mentions maybe three other classmates and teachers at her school a handful of times. She has no support system and her father has done everything in his power to fracture the closeness between Ellie and her mom to the point where they can’t even be support for one another, at least that’s what Ellie thinks. That broke me. It’s a short book, so I understand it’s hard to dig deep in every aspect. I just think it’s important to know there isn’t an easy solution and that while the ending is hopeful, there’s a long, long road ahead. Survivors need judgement-free support, constant reminders they made the right choice, and they need to be believed. Always. Recommend.TW: suicide, domestic abuse
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  • (Belleand_books) Isabella Valentine
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for providing this arc. All thoughts are my own. TW: physical abuse, depression, suicide This is a hauntingly beautiful novel about what it means to take your own life and what it does to the people you leave behind.Ellie commits suicide just days before she graduates high school, escaping her abusive father. Ellie leaves behind her mother and August, her childhood friend that she eventually reconnects with. The story is told in a poetic style in a way that makes the story Thank you to NetGalley for providing this arc. All thoughts are my own. TW: physical abuse, depression, suicide This is a hauntingly beautiful novel about what it means to take your own life and what it does to the people you leave behind.Ellie commits suicide just days before she graduates high school, escaping her abusive father. Ellie leaves behind her mother and August, her childhood friend that she eventually reconnects with. The story is told in a poetic style in a way that makes the story such a compelling, quick read. Juxtaposing between the past and the current, this story manages to capture the heartache and the hope that Ellie had and lost. I cried no less than 10 times. Ellie manages to escape the majority of her father’s beatings, but her mother doesn’t. She expands on why she is mad at her mother for staying and how she eventually comes to see her mother’s plan to get them out. She talks about how her and August grew together and apart and then back together. August giving her father what he deserves and her mother making her escape really seals this book. Ellie also grows and comes to regret her choice when she gets an outside look on the situations. The book does not advocate for suicide, but rather prevention, not a “stay because you never know who will miss you” but a “stay because you’re needed, wanted, and missable. Stay because you’re stronger than you think”. It’s a story that I think everyone needs to read.
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  • Nina
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book from GoodReads!This is a gripping story narrated by the ghost a young girl who killed herself. In this heart-wrenching novel, the girl stays in limbo visiting the mourners, only to watch and discover that had she waited, her life would have changed for the better. It is clear that the author of this book obviously knows about depression firsthand, by the way our sad little spirit personifies her depression and ironically addresses the pain, as if it was a living breathing entity. I won this book from GoodReads!This is a gripping story narrated by the ghost a young girl who killed herself. In this heart-wrenching novel, the girl stays in limbo visiting the mourners, only to watch and discover that had she waited, her life would have changed for the better. It is clear that the author of this book obviously knows about depression firsthand, by the way our sad little spirit personifies her depression and ironically addresses the pain, as if it was a living breathing entity. This suggests that when one is experiencing depressing and pain like this, it feels real and tangible. My heart broke for the protagonist and her mother. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem or circumstance. It may remove your immediate pain, but it will cause permanent pain for your loved ones. You don't have to suffer alone. There are many people out there who have been there, felt that, and managed to pull out of their circumstances, physical, emotional, and mental. Please seek help. You will not regret living past this pain. There is life ahead, please don't throw it away!
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