The Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan

Book I: Reason to Breathe
Emma Thomas does her best to appear invisible. Sure she is a star athlete, belongs to several clubs, and is a stellar student, but beyond that she tries desperately to fly under the radar. The drive behind Emma's perfection is survival. Emma has a secret - a secret that is a matter of life and death for her. No one knows the truth of the hell she lives in except Sara, her best friend, and even she doesn't know the whole truth.

When Evan Matthews shows up, Emma finds her world turned on it's head. Evan doesn't ignore Emma like everyone else and sees her in a way that no one has before. Emma is drawn to Evan, even though she knows she can't ever tell him the truth. Even as Emma falls for Evan, she pushes him away, desperate to protect her secret. Evan, who guesses Emma's secret, becomes one of the few things in Emma's life that motivate her to keep breathing and not give up. But when the web of secrets begins to unravel, Emma finds herself facing a choice that will change her life forever - to stay or to go?


Book II: Barely Breathing
Everyone knows Emma's secret, but her aunt can't hurt her anymore. With Sara and Evan at her side, Emma must now start to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. When her mother asks her to come and live with her, Emma takes the opportunity to rebuild the relationship with her only surviving parent. But some things cannot be fixed, and Emma will find herself once again facing the realities of her past. Believing that she only brings destruction to those she loves, Emma leaves everything and everyone behind as she leaves for California, even more broken than before and hoping for a new start.


Book III: Out of Breath
It's been two years since Emma left everything and everyone behind her in Weslyn. Now at Stanford, Emma is not the same girl that she used to be. She is a shell of her former self and completely broken, struggling daily to stay numb and move on from her past. When another tragedy brings Evan and Emma back together, Emma must face her past once and for all and gain the forgiveness that is holding her back, or risk losing Evan for good.


This series is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. It has you flying high, only to plunge you back into heartache. There were times where I had to put the story down and walk away for a bit, because it is that intense at times. The series deals with some pretty heavy subject matter and Emma is a truly amazing character. She manages to survive everything life throws at her time and time again. Her strength and ability to keep moving forward are amazing. 

Evan is also amazing and worthy of the title of book boyfriend. His love of Emma, even after everything she puts him through, is unconditional. He refuses to give up on her and is a pillar of strength. But he's also not perfect, and for me that is the key to their love story. They are not perfect, but they are perfect together. There were times throughout the series where I wanted to scream because it was so obvious that they belonged together, but as I learned in the Slammed series by Colleen Hoover, "sometimes things have to fall apart so that they can fall back together." 

Be prepared for some serious cliffhangers in books one and two, but overall I am pleased with how the series ended. There is a lot that could be explored in the future and I did feel that there were a few loose ends to tie up. I would love to know what happens next for Evan and Emma, but am content for now with where their story ends up at the conclusion of book three. This series is definitely worth the read, even if you might be an emotional wreck afterwards.

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