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Only a Breath Apart: A Novel Hardcover – 22 January 2019
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"Katie McGarry knows what YA is, how it works, and what it can do better than anyone, but she always takes it one step further."--Hypable
"Fair warning: Picture-perfect Scarlett and misunderstood Jesse will have you in your feels."--Girls' Life Magazine
"Beyond a haunted teen romance is a beautiful, moving exploration of domestic violence, forgiveness, and self-love. ...Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming." --Kirkus, starred review
"McGarry ably captures the feeling of desperately wanting to come home to a friendship that has radically changed. The novel manages to tackle domestic violence in a way that never feels clichéd, and the romance is sure to win over even the most cynical reader. This is a story you'll want to read slowly, just to be able to stay with the characters for a moment longer."--Booklist
"A gorgeous, heartfelt journey of redemption and love." --Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author
"Powerful, emotional, and ultimately hopeful. An unforgettable story that will leave its mark on your heart." --C. J. Redwine, New York Times bestselling author
"Gritty and real, Only a Breath Apart is a story of hope conjured from pain, strength drawn from innocence, and love earned from self-respect. Beautiful, poignant, and fierce." --Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series
"Meticulously weaves a fragile love story through a minefield of loss, broken trust, and familial curses both real and imagined. Haunting, authentic, and ultimately hopeful." --Tammara Webber, New York Times bestselling author
"A painful, beautiful, and utterly magical story about the family you're born into versus the family you choose." --Trish Doller, author of In a Perfect World
"A touching tale of love and fate straight from the heartland." --Mindy McGinnis, author of The Female of the Species
"Scarlett and Jesse's story will stay in your heart long after you finish the book." --Simone Elkeles, New York Times bestselling author
"Southern Gothic at its finest, this is Katie McGarry's best book to date!" --Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan and Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Bestselling author Katie McGarry's trademark wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance is given a new twist in the gritty YA contemporary novel, Only a Breath Apart.
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Top international reviews
Books about childhood friends who find their way back to each other are without a doubt my absolute favorite, but Only A Breath Apart is more than reconciling friendships and romance. It's about family secrets and domestic abuse in its many forms and what it's like to grow up in a home where that occurs. Through Scarlett, we see that it takes courage to make the tough decisions, to accept the help and to also help herself.
What I loved:
I loved the rural setting and the gorgeous descriptions of the land and Jesse and Scarlett's connection to it. It is their lifeline. It's where they feel most themselves. It's where they are most free.
I loved reading scenes that included Jesse's cousin, Glory. She is definitely a favorite character. Is she a con? Is she intuitive? Does she see (or sense) dead people? Maybe, but I think yes to all. She reads people and understands what they need to hear. She gives them a small push. She's not all-knowing, but she knows enough.
Some Favorite Quotes:
My cheeks burn under his continued inspection. Jesse has done this a handful of times since our freshman year. Glance at me as if I’m someone worth looking at, someone worth laughing with a little too loud and smiling with a little too much. Then he remembers who I am and snaps his gaze to someone else. - This alludes to Scarlett and Jesse's history - what they once had and the possibility of what might still be there.
"You've been asleep for a very long time,” she whispers. “It’s time to wake up, Scarlett. There’s a whole world of possibility waiting for you.” - This is what Glory says when Scarlett goes to have her palm read.
There is so much beauty and hope in this story and I want readers to embrace it just as I have. Like Noah and Echo from Pushing the Limits, Beth and Ryan from Dare You To and Emily and Oz in Nowhere But Here, Scarlett and Jesse are characters that I will continue to hold in my heart and imagine their beautiful future together.
Katie doesn’t write light and cute contemporary, but emotional books with boys who are rough on the outside and solid gold on the inside. They aren’t easy to read, but not because of the writing, but because of the emotions, the pain the characters go through. Some of the violence in the book can be a bit much, but it’s an integral part of the story. About learning to trust, learning to love, and trying to heal.
I love that this book has a tiny bit extrasensory perception, and I don’t think that is the right way to explain it. More like psychics, spirits, curses and a spiritual connection to the land. I can’t even explain it, but it is a part of the story that has importance, but it doesn’t take anything away from the plot, only adds to it. I loved this chance that Katie took, as it isn’t something she ever wrote before.
Let’s talk about the characters, because I love character driven books and Katie writes the best characters. Jesse has recently lost his grandmother, one of his last remaining relatives. He is the inheritor of a large farmland, but his grandmother had created a sort of trust to determine how he should inherit the property when he turns 18 in less than a year. He believes his family is cursed, his mother swore that he couldn’t leave their families land, and everytime he has gone far away, very bad things have happened to him. Jesse has got a bad reputation around town, but all of his shortcomings are based his heart of gold. He gets in trouble for helping his friends, or his farm, or his family.
Scarlett was the girl Jesse grew up with, she was always closed off, but they were always close. Of course Jesse pushed her away and hurt her a few years ago. Now his future depends on her, and he has never stopped caring for her. Scarlett and Jesse start rekindling their friendship. Her life and Jesse’s are interwined, for better or worse.
I love when audiobooks have dual narrators when the book is told in that format. Nothing makes me happier than having a male and female narrator, so yay! The production is great, and I enjoyed listening to this story. Y’all know I love audiobooks more than anything so yeah I got lost in this one.
If you like your characters with a bit of a rough edge, complexity, and ultimately flawed, I can guarantee you will be completely consumed with Only a Breath Apart.
*Trigger warnings for violence, domestic abuse, verbal abuse.
I wanted to devour this book in one sitting, but it’s probably good that my kids and work forced me to break it up over several days. That way, I could absorb and process all the emotions I was feeling.
I also think the song “oceans” by hillsong is the perfect song for scarlet and jesses future. That brought a huge smile to my face, even though I was not ready to let their story go.
And lastly, major props to the author for keeping the story clean (but still full of emotion and passion). This is definitely a book I will be recommending for my own kids when they are teens.
Jesse and Scarlet were best friends, and they've lived across the street from each other forever, but now they're not. Now that Jesse is dealing with the death of his grandmother and what options he has with the land he's kind of inheriting, and graduation is looming, suddenly Scarlet and him are in each others lives again. Scarlet is attempting to gain some freedom from her controlling father, but there's a lot in her way from doing that. And then there's the weird psychic in town giving them these odd messages and hints.
I really wanted to like this more than I did. Scarlet is dealing with a really bad family situation, and Jesse is dealing with a no-family kind of situation. They know each other, and they know the land, and yet they don't really anymore, it feels like to them.
This book was really just okay. I liked how it wrapped up, and the steps that Scarlet took definitely felt hard and important and realistic. It didn't wrap that situation up in a neat bow, which is realistic to me, however sad it also is. And I also think that Jesse's situation wrapped up in a way that made sense.
It just didn't connect with me as much as I hoped it would. The chemistry wasn't quite there for me. And, honestly, when a magical element is used, I really want more of it. If there's psychic leanings hinted at or talked about, I want them to be real. Not a kind of realistic possibility of a real thing.
I don't know why, but going into this I wasn't thinking contemporary, I was expecting something futuristic or maybe a bit more paranormal; I'll take the awesome story we got instead. If you're a long time reader or follower you are well aware of my love for Katie's writing and her stories. This story took me out, I wasn't ready for all of it and man it slayed my emotions and I fell into the story and didn't want to come out.
I literally writing this right after I finished the book and I still can't process. Reading this and knowing that there are teens living this everyday breaks my heart. I wanted to rage at the adults in the scenarios that they were failing the children, As the story moved on and we realized that much of what was happening was generational we could see the setup to whether or not Jesse and Scarlett would be able to pull themselves out. Does what everyone else in town believe about you really make you who you are??
We go into the story from Jesse and Scarlett's perspectives, when they met as children and learned to rely on each other for friendship and complicated love. I absolutely love that they had each other to help weather the storm of growing up. As the story progresses and we see the adults pushing their agendas, and ideas ( read that as fears, their failings, and fears) onto the kids and knowing that young children absorb whatever they believe will help I just wanted to yell, no that's not true don't believe it. Jesse's home life is complicated, his mother doesn't really know how to parent, but luckily for her, her family is there to help even when she can't see it. For Scarlett, her world changes one summer when her best friend, the boy she's always known distances himself from her and leaves her without a rudder in a world that is slowly suffocating her with its expectations and demands of perfection.
My heart broke so many times reading this, I wanted to yell that talking would help, but then realized the characters were right, it didn't always help. There were so many lessons to be learned here by both Jesse and Scarlett. I absolutely loved Glory, Pastor Hughes & Marshall. As adults, there were pretty amazing for the two to have in their corners and learn from. I loved how Glory was such a great catalyst for change in their lives, was a great sounding board when they needed it and place to come to rest.
I would have loved more from the friends than we got in the story. I do understand the story is really about Jesse and Scarlett, however, their friends made many choices and chances for them and pushed them when needed and I wanted to know more about V, what made her tick, and why the lost boys ended up there. I wanted to know how their story changes and progresses as well. I'm not sure I like all of Scarlett's friends because of the situation they put her in.
I was so invested in what was happening and I was so nervous the closer we got to the end of the book. I could see some of the solutions that were needed and understood the steps necessary for the characters to grow and change; I was super excited when those came through and understood why Katie made the decisions she did for the characters. I was fully invested in their development and the progress being made. In the end, I felt proud as if they were my friends because I was so happy to see the success and growth.
I love, love that nothing was glossed over and made perfect, Katie shared the reality of the situation and how it doesn't always go the way we plan or hope. I absolutely love the scenes where they are viewing the apartments because I had the same thoughts and was like Girl?!! I loved that Jesse knew not to say anything but let her learn the hard way the reality of the situation. One of my favorite things wasn't the adults who stood for them when they needed, it wasn't the amazing friendships they had, it wasn't even that Jesse and Scarlett had such an amazing bond. I loved that therapy was seen and shown in such a positive light. I loved that the adults who cared gave them room to come to them but also let them know without a doubt I would believe you. I loved their connection to the land as well, the fact that they felt the Earth breathing and could connect down to that?? Another of my favorite moments.
If you can't tell by now, I highly recommend this one. Be ready to be emotionally invested, to be angry and afraid to be nervous for the characters. To be excited as friendship becomes more, to be sad when reality crashes into the scenes and know fear.
Like all of Katie's books, this one also comes with a soundtrack and I think the songs she picked were perfect. I'll have that up this weekend along with a link to the Youtube playlist.
Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti My Review
Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan
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Good Luck & Happy Reading my loves,
Only a Breath Apart is a tender and angst filled love story about two broken teenagers. Both of them have secrets, and don't let people in. Jesse has a past that he doesn't talk about, and Scarlett comes from a broken home with an abusive and controlling father. Growing up, they were childhood best friends, and the single most important person in each other's lives. Jesse ended their friendship abruptly without explanation, and Scarlett was devastated.
After Jesse's grandmother dies, circumstances lead Scarlett and Jesse back in to one another's lives. Jesse believes his family is cursed, and the only way to keep the curse at bay is to stay on his family's land; the land that has been in his family for generations. Scarlett is desperate to lead her own life and escape the controlling clutches of her domineering father. Together they will support each other, and fall in love along the way. Will their love story have a happy ending, or is the Laclan Curse real?
I loved reading Only a Breath Apart. It was such a page turner. This love story really tugged on my emotions and melted my heart. The characterization of Jesse and Scarlett was excellent. Both characters came to life and jumped right off of the page with the talented Ms. McGarry's storytelling. I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. My favorite was Glory, Jesse's distant cousin. She was a psychic fortuneteller, with a quirky personality, who was devoted to helping both Jesse and Scarlett.
Only a Breath Apart was an intense story filled with angst, and the very real and heartbreaking cycle of abuse. It wasn't sugarcoated, and there were no easy solutions. I appreciated the raw emotions that it provoked in me, because it meant that the author was really able to connect me to the story and its characters. I love that she also offered a message of hope; but it was a realistic message that also delivered encouragement and strength to readers who might be going through similar situations.
I’m going to get personal for a second, which I don’t always do in my reviews, but part of why I loved this book so so much is because teenage Teresa needed this book. And I’m not saying that the things that happened to Jesse/Scarlett happened to me, because that would be a lie, my life was not nearly as difficult, but there are certain aspects and themes and just certain things the characters struggled with that deeply resonated with me. Honestly, I still needed this book and I am so glad to have read it and more importantly I am glad this book exists for teenagers today.
Jesse and Scarlett are both such incredible characters and I love them both with all of my heart. They may seem to live in opposite worlds, but they have both lived very difficult lives. I wanted to reach into this book and hug them both so tightly and then hold their hands and help them find their way in life. But they really didn’t need me; they are both incredibly strong and come so far over the course of the book. I felt like a proud older sister watching them. And speaking of sisters, I adored the relationship between Scarlett and her sister Isabelle.
I always love how Katie McGarry so realistically portrays her characters, especially her adult characters. I mean, first off, I adored Glory, just adored her. But I also love how all of the adults are portrayed with flaws, they are not perfect and they do not make the right choices all the time and sometimes they think they know better when they don’t. And some of these adults are not redeemable in my opinion and are just not good, but then others may not seem that great but are actually people with good hearts who maybe don’t go about things the best way. Adults don’t always have all the answers here, but the good ones will listen and will help and I love that she shows a balance that there are truly terrible people in the world but there are also some really great ones as well.
Only A Breath Apart is a truly fantastic read and is one of those books I know I am going to revisit. I loved watching Jesse and Scarlett grow together again and grow up. This is my favorite book from Katie McGarry to date. She has never let me down yet, but this one was even more special. I cannot recommend this book enough.
I was 100% not prepared for Scarlett’s story, or Jesse’s if I'm sincere. Her home life was hinted at in the blurb, but I could have never guessed exactly how bad her circumstances would actually be. Jesse’s life was a complete surprise to me. The darkness they’d lived through and were living in could have easily twisted them into awful people, but they both managed to rise beyond their situations and become stronger, better people than those who bore them. They broke my heart, both in the way they took the mantels of guilt and pain that had been thrust upon them and in the way they helped one another begin to shed those burdens and heal from the wounds left behind. Healing was an essential theme in Only a Breath Apart, and I loved that both Scarlett and Jesse found the strength to do what was necessary – even when it seemed impossibly difficult – to become whole again.
I found the secondary characters in Only a Breath Apart to be just as captivating as Scarlett and Jesse. This book wouldn’t have been as rich as it was without them. I loved how Ms. McGarry used them to push Scarlett and Jesse forward, to help them learn about themselves, to show them what life outside the constraints they’d put on it could be. I would love to live in this fascinating world of broken families, supernatural themes, and secrets forever – just to squeeze out each drop of mystery hidden behind the faces we met in Scarlett and Jesse’s story.
Late last year I had the opportunity to read a few books that relied heavily on the tarot, palm readings, and other psychic type themes, and became fascinated with it. Only a Breath Apart took all of those threads of interest I had developed, fanned those flames, and made me want to believe that there is something to the spiritual world beyond the things most people are taught within the walls of a church. I loved how Katie adapted those beliefs and wove the ideas of believing in something bigger – whether psychic abilities, curses, or mainstream religion – into Only a Breath Apart. It made the story feel otherworldly, while still being completely rooted in the often horrific reality of everyday life.
I’m struggling a bit with how to make my words do justice to this gorgeous book Katie created. There’s something about her books that makes me just feel like I’m actually living in them. I’m not just reading them, I’m experiencing everything right along with the characters. As you can imagine, Only a Breath Apart put me through the wringer and a myriad of emotions. There was fear because of what Scarlett was experiencing at home. A ton of emotions I can’t even name over Jesse’s need to keep his land. Swoons over the relationship developing between the two of them.
I feel like Only a Breath Apart is a book best experienced knowing little going in, so I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty here. This book was a journey. Or, maybe more specifically, two journeys. Jesse and Scarlett were both fantastic characters who experienced a lot of growth over the course of this book. There were ups and downs, but that just made it all the more realistic. It was an easy and addictive read, an emotional and heartfelt story. If you enjoy YA contemporary, Only a Breath Apart needs to be on your TBR.
“People say our curse is that when we fall in love with someone, something horrible will happen to them, and we’re left to grieve forever.”
Holes in hearts hurt, and I have too many holes for me to be breathing.
I’m sick and tired of adults acting like we’re glass that will shatter if we fall. Sometimes they need to let us fall. Sometimes we need to make our own mistakes.
Two things I didn't like were Jesse's insistence on referring to "the land". I get it, he feels like he's connected to his family land but it got a little tiresome. The other this was the friends seemed to be throw away characters. I know the friends weren't the focus of the story but I wanted scenes with the friends as the big things from the story were discussed. There's one conversation that occurs near the end of the story that would have been great to read but it happens off the page and is only mentioned in passing. I was very disappointed.
Is it possible to love someone who hurts you? Is it possible for the person who hurts you to love you? page 42
Since my freshman year, I've sat envious at my bedroom window and watched as Jesse has led his friends from the driveway to his back field. I hated them for being so happy together. I hated them more that I wasn't invited. page 179
purchased copy of book from Amazon
Katie is the queen of YA, and she proves it again with this book. Jesse and Scarlett’s story explores the challenges of families, particularly abusive families, and how those challenges impact the psyche and our destinies. The emotions surrounding the abuse are incredibly detailed, real, and honest; the depictions of victim services accurate even when it isn’t pretty. And beyond the hard moments, beyond the negativity that the characters experience, this is a wonderful love story that is beautiful BECAUSE it is realistic and flawed.
This book serves as motivation to discover your dreams and what will truly make you happy without the interference of others. The lesson here is to go after that as hard as you can - a lesson every young adult, and many grown adults, need to learn.