TRY NOT TO BREATHE by Holly Seddon

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½

Some secrets never die. They’re just locked away.

Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found unconscious after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Amy Stevenson, who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.

Soon Alex’s routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter’s story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from her attempt to uncover the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she’s not just chasing a story—she’s seeking salvation.

Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.

Fantastic debut! TRY NOT TO BREATHE is the kind of book that will haunt your thoughts long after finishing. At least, that’s how it affected me. The book is full of flawed, complex, and unique characters, especially Amy, the young woman who has been trapped in a coma for over a decade because of a vicious attack that went unpunished.

The unlikely hero of the story is Alex Dale, an alcoholic journalist who’s hit rock bottom time after time. When Alex recognizes Amy in a hospital ward, the forgotten victim from long ago, she becomes fixated on solving the seemingly impossible mystery. Alex is teetering on the edge of complete self-destruction, and her fight for Amy is all she has left.

The story itself is so interesting, and equally heartbreaking. It was fascinating to learn about the advances made in communicating with people in vegetative states. TRY NOT TO BREATHE is well-written and absorbing dark suspense. The ending was amazing, left me teary-eyed.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.