Couldn’t catch my breath — audiobook review of BREATHE by Elena Dillon

Winner of the 2012 InD’Tale Rone Young Adult Award

Winner of the 2012 Weta Nichols Young Adult Award

2940015746075_p0_v2_s260x420Title: Breathe
Author: Elena Dillon
Narrator: Roxanna Bell
Genre: YA Romantic Suspense
Story Setting: Lafayette, Louisiana
Published: December 10, 2012
Pages: 191
Sold By: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Official Story Description: Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16-year-old girl. It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught. That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over. Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.

In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way. Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction. On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is. Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening. Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time? Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.

My Thoughts: The book was written in first person with Jasmin telling the story. Being an audiobook further enhanced the story’s tension which fairly crackled in the room.

Jasmin wanted to be a typical 16-year-old, but with what happened in Burbank, California, she could not. Those events were still raw and the fear was still too real. Would they find the killer? Would he kill another? Would the rest of the family be a target? All she wanted was to move on with her life, blend, and do what teenagers do. The city of Burbank wouldn’t let the family get over the pain of losing Daisy. Jasmin was tired of having people feel sorry for her, whispering when she entered a room, receiving prank calls or just having to be reminded constantly of what happened.

To Jasmin, Daisy was her confidant and the best older sister she could possibly want. But since her murder, Jasmin had become withdrawn, and avoided most people. She was most angry the assailant hadn’t been caught. At 14 she had stood up in front of reporters, strong and courageous talking about her sister. She wanted the perpetrator caught!

Lily and Caden, her 12-year-old twin siblings needed new starts, too. Little Lily still worried a lot, scared of the smallest things where before she was as vibrant as Daisy. She was being robbed of her childhood. Caden didn’t indulge as much in pranks with Jasmin; he was more subdued and worried about his sisters.

Jasmin’s mom, a nurse, hadn’t been the same since her daughter’s death. Jasmin worried about her, trying to make life as easy for her as possible. She walked around in a trance.

A couple of years after Daisy’s death, the family decided to move – to make a fresh start. Each member of the family chose a place in the U.S. where they’d like to live. Jasmin’s mom had moved them with no one from California knowing where they went. She even got all of them new phones – they couldn’t be traced to their old home. Luckily, chosen was the place Jasmin had done a lot of research on, Lafayette, Louisiana.

The first time she met Easton was when she woke from a faint in the parking lot in her new town. She had gone out in the dark to get a sweatshirt for her sister. The dark always spooked her. As she arrived at the car, someone had come up behind her and scared her. She started blacking out as she does when scared. When she was able to open her eyes, she found the most delicious-looking boy holding her in his arms. She hadn’t landed on the parking lot asphalt, nor did she have a lump on her head. He had caught her.

I pretty much fell in love with Easton. He seemed to think of everything. He was a perceptive person, spent considerable time trying to understand Jasmin’s behavior, what she was afraid of and how he could help. He’d be someone I’d have cover my back, for sure.

Jasmin was hesitant to trust Easton too much. After all, that might have been the case with Daisy and look what happened to her. Even Lily wasn’t sure that Easton should be trusted. But when he took a portfolio, along with recommendation letters from his pastor and coach, to Jasmin’s mother to introduce himself, it was both endearing and quite creative. She was won over and so was I!

Easton saw something special in Jasmin and set out to charm her and to learn who she is. The interplay between the two of them was touching and sweet. Jasmin struggles with letting Easton know too much about her past, but leans on his strength, for Easton has strengths a plenty, both in character and physically.

Jasmin needed to have friends and she found them in Lafayette. She started to love the town and then things started changing. Scary texts on her phone where no one should even know her number, daisies and jasmin flowers in her locker, and feelings that someone is watching her.  When Jasmin accepts the fact that she is being stalked, she dare not share it with her family. It would only upset them. She’d handle this herself.

Jasmin was a wonderful heroine. She tried to be what Daisy had been to her younger siblings. She loved her family and was quite apparent by her actions. She would also remember her responsibilities and then some. Family was everything to her and she was willing to do anything to keep them safe. She even tried to protect her mother against her fears.

The situation keeps on getting worse. The author sure knows how to keep a reader reading. I was finding it hard to breathe as Jasmin had more contact with the psychopath stalker. He threatened if she told the cops or anyone about him, he would get Lily. Talk about know how to push her buttons!

Even though this is considered a young adult read, I can tell you that it was just plain scary. The author kept ratcheting up the suspense, my heart twisted right along with it. I felt Easton’s unease, my own and Jasmin’s, who still wouldn’t share with Easton. Would Jasmin wait too long trying to fix everything on her own?

Yes, ladies and gents. This was one humdinger of a listen, for the sweet young readers just discovering themselves and us young-at-heart older folks.

Elena DillionAbout Elena Dillon: She is a YA romantic suspense author who lives and writes in a suburb North of Los Angeles.  She has never lived anywhere besides California which is probably a good thing since she hates being cold and is terrified to drive in the snow. She loves being a wife and a mother to her three kids and three dogs, although really the bulldog is the fourth child who has never matured beyond the toddler stage.

A self-proclaimed nerd, she has been writing since she was a child. She has only recently, however, come out of the closet about this to her family and friends.  They now understand better, but not completely, why she talks about characters in stories as if they are real people.

Narrator Roxana Bell: Her voice was absolutely perfect when depicting a young, sweet, trying-to-keep-it-together-16-year-old from Burbank, California. I could hear fear in her voice, disgust with Caden when his tricks and pranks caught Jasmin unaware, Jasmin’s love of her mother who had gone through so much and her growing admiration for Easton.

The narrator’s portrayal of Easton, with his southern charm and polite manners, to me, was very authentic. She helped me envision the kind of sweet, understanding, loyal and protective boy he was. Her Cajun accent rolls glibly off her tongue with her impersonation of Easton was more than I could have asked for. Between the amazing story from the author, Elena Dillon, and narrator Roxana Bell, they provided the listener one very good production.



About eileendandashi

I am a lover of books, both reading and writing. 2018 marks the beginning of my own journey from writer to published author. This blog will showcase various authors' thoughts on the elements of novel crafting, and my attempts to find my voice in writing. While journaling this journey, I hope to encourage others to follow their dreams. Book reviews continue as I have the last four years, only making time for my new pursuits.
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