Thursday, February 14, 2019

Book Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Pages: 365
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Pub. Date: January 22, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Pushing the Limits 
and Dare You To
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "Jesse Lachlin is cursed.   So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.  Scarlett Copeland is psychic.  Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.  Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…"

Jesse Lachlin grew up believing that his family is cursed. His mother told him that he would be ok as long as he never leaves the Lachlin land and she made him promise to always stay.  Jessie grew up spending his days with Scarlett, a young girl whose property abuts his land, and although they are drastically different, he has always remained best friends with her. That is until high school and their big falling out.  Things have changed since they were spending their days in the woods and playing among the trees. Scarlett has become an "ice queen" and part of the affluent group of high school students whereas Jessie is the polar opposite and struggles to get by.  They haven't spoken in years and their paths definitely don't cross.  Then Jesse's grandmother dies and leaves the family land to him but there's one catch.  He must win over the approval and trust of various people including Scarlett whom he hasn't spoken to in years. Scarlett's life isn't what you would expect though.  Her father is a complete control freak and keeps a tight leash on her.  She wants to go away to college, but he won't let; plus, he is not a nice guy and is downright abusive.  Things aren't aways as they seem and Jesse realizes this as he starts to reconnect with her.  Katie McGarry's gritty YA novel, Only a Breath Apart, is a quick read that truly captures the beauty in opposites attract and also it's a story about forgiveness.

Scarlett, at first glance, seems to have it all in Only a Breath Apart. A gorgeous house, perfect parents, and an adorable little sister, but as you dig deeper you see that she is truly held prisoner in her own life. Her dad is extremely overbearing and his mother allows various forms of abuse in the house.  Her mother makes excuses for her father, which I find it be infuriating.  It's not just the physical abuse that he inflicts on Scarlett's mother, but there's also emotional abuse to the rest of the family members. His tight leash on Scarlett, his guilt trips, and his overbearing nature made me feel like I was suffocating as I read her parts of the novel. I can't imagine living with someone like that day in and day out.  The depictions of this kind of abuse truly broke my heart and I think it's a good reminder of how we truly don't know what people are hiding.  They may appear to have it all from the outside, but that isn't always the case deep down.

Jesse is another character I immediately liked in Only a Breath Apart His back story will also break your heart, but I loved his strong relationship with his grandmother and his ability to stay focused on his goals.  His small group of friends and his cousin, despite their reputations, always have his back and that was nice to see.

I loved Jesse and Scarlett's relationship, which was obviously rooted in friendship since they have been friends since they were children. I loved to watch it blossom despite their being in two separate groups in school and I also adored how they helped each other overcome various obstacles in their lives.

Be forewarned though. Only a Breath Apart is a gritty YA read that isn't for the faint of heart or the younger YA readers. As I mentioned, there's various forms of abuse, so you must be ready for it. In fact, the scenes with Scarlett and her father gave me some anxiety, but if you can get past that, there's much more to this story than a Southern romance.  I liked how it focused on forgiveness (both towards others and yourself) as well as doing what is best for oneself.

If you like your YA novels on the darker side, definitely check out Katie McGarry's. Have you read any of her novels? Let me know which one is your favorite.


  1. This sounds like such an emotional read. Thanks for the heads-up on the abuse scenes!

    1. You're welcome! You definitely have to be in the mood for a more serious YA read. Thanks for visiting!


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