TRY NOT TO BREATHE by Holly Seddon


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Two unlikely friends—a woman left unresponsive by an attack when she was a teen and a divorced alcoholic—intersect in Seddon’s psychological thriller.

In a story that shifts perspective between characters and jumps back and forth between the years 1995 and 2010, Seddon chronicles the tale of a teenager assaulted and left for dead, the girl’s now-grown-up boyfriend, and a troubled freelance journalist trying to solve the crime. At age 15, Amy sneaked away with an older man in order to lose her virginity, which she hadn't done with her gentle boyfriend, Jacob. What she couldn’t have known was that the man had too much to lose to let her stay alive. He strangled her and left her for dead, but Amy didn’t die. Instead, she lies in what appears to be a persistent vegetative state in a hospital where reporter Alex is working on a story. Deserted by her fed-up police detective husband, Matt, Alex lives in the house she inherited from her mother and drinks herself to sleep every night. Such is her level of alcoholism and encroaching liver disease that she's accustomed to wetting the bed almost every night. But when she visits the hospital to do a feature on people in vegetative states, she sees Amy, whom she remembers as a news headline while she was growing up. What follows are Alex’s attempts to wrap her mind around Amy’s story by reinvestigating her attack. Cutting among the perspectives of Amy, Alex, and Jacob, Seddon builds an oddly interesting dynamic. The world she’s constructed is fascinating and slightly dark, especially since Alex is a committed alcoholic in the last throes of her dependence. Seddon’s storytelling skills are strong and the book engrossing, but her bizarre comparisons—she describes a doctor as squirming like a child with worms, for instance—serve only to yank the reader out of the story.

Great plotting, but the author’s oddball imagery proves distracting.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-101-88586-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2015


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