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A Breath Too Late

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For fans of Girl in Pieces, All the Bright Places, and Girl, Interrupted comes a haunting and breathtaking YA contemporary debut novel that packs a powerful message: hope can be found in the darkness.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie had no hope left. Yet the day after she dies by suicide, she finds herself in the midst of an out-of-body experience. She is a spectator, swaying between past and present, retracing the events that unfolded prior to her death.

But there are gaps in her memory, fractured pieces Ellie is desperate to re-assemble. There's her mother, a songbird who wanted to break free from her oppressive cage. The boy made of brushstrokes and goofy smiles who brought color into a gray world. Her brooding father, with his sad puppy eyes and clenched fists. Told in epistolary-like style, this deeply moving novel sensitively examines the beautiful and terrible moments that make up a life and the possibilities that live in even the darkest of places. Perfect for fans of the critically-acclaimed Speak, I’ll Give You the Sun, and If I Stay.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published April 28, 2020

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About the author

Rocky Callen

3 books121 followers
Rocky Callen, the daughter of an Ecuadorian immigrant, has long lived a life of service ever since she was a 13-year-old advocating for the undocumented immigrants in her community. She interned at NASA at 12 years old, started lobbying congress at 13, and wrote and produced student radio stories at NPR at 14.

A behavioral therapist for over ten years, she received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband, daughter, and baby boy. Rocky is currently developing the Bleed Ink Foundation, a creative hub and resource center for writers, and the HoldOn2Hope Project, which unites creatives in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. A Breath Too Late is her debut novel.

Join her newsletter on her website to read the first few chapters of A BREATH TOO LATE.

She is most active on IG: @rockywrites

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 362 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,465 reviews9,620 followers
July 13, 2020
Damn, this is gonna be along one... I have many mental disorders, one being bipolar depression with those wonderful suicidal thoughts. Yeah, I still get them a lot. Seems funny with my 2 year cancer free anniversary coming up. But, mental illness is a bitch you can’t understand. SPOILER EXCERPTS!

I’m going to add a lot of excerpts from the book, mostly things I felt meant something to me, including some from authors note. This book is also about domestic abuse.

Authors Note:

*The moment the truth is out, you can’t shove it back into its shadowy corner. And the truth is, there are days when I feel unstoppable, days when my pockets are lined with sunshine and possibilities, and then there are days when I feel there are anchors tied to my ankles and I am sinking and no one can see me drowning.

*This book is for the Ellies of the world who we have lost, the ones left behind whose hearts are mending, and those teetering on the edge between hope and pain.
And if that is you, I see you.
Please stay.
Again, I say this to you (because I have often had to remember it myself) : The world needs you in it.

*For the ones wandering in the dark.
Don’t forget that the stars are yours too.


My head falls into my hands and I rub my temples, fighting to remember. I had thoughts of suicide all the time. Passing thoughts. They had felt tender and secret, but I don’t remember that moment—that moment when it wasn’t just a thought but a secret monster made real.

I am here. August is on my front porch and I am here, forcing my hand to stay put against the glass so it doesn’t slide through. I want this to be real. My eyes beg to be seen.

Your mom gathers you into her arms and you bury your head in her shoulder. It is strange to see someone so large needing to collapse on someone so small. I turn to run, it I hear your muffled shaky voice, "She’s dead. She’s dead. She’s dead. She’s dead."
The tide has washed me in and I can’t leave.

You reach into the box and hold the origami birds, tracing the edges even though they are worn and might break. You take them in your ruined hands and press them to your heart.

Depression, I didn’t know what you were when you came sneaking under my window. I had known sadness. I had known loneliness. I had known anger and resentment and shame and fleeting numbness. I had known all those things. They would come and go, settling into the air and around my fingertips and eyelashes.

You always snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking. You seeped in and dug in your claws.

You were a tricky thing. I wanted to be able to scrub you clean and make you shiny so you didn’t feel like you were rotting inside me.

Momma and I clung tight to each other that night and when I woke up, we were both bloody and on the floor, tangled up in our pain and secrets.
And you returned, fierce and incessant, and I had nothing left to fight back.
You won.

Life, You were broken, often ugly, and always too much, but you also hid promises in pockets, tucked hope under mattresses, and crammed a thousand perfect moments between the shards of sharp and treacherous ones.
I am sorry I had forgotten them.
I am sorry I didn’t even see.
And a breath too late, I realized...
I loved you.

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,659 reviews5,137 followers
May 2, 2020
I was really looking forward to this, but it wasn't what I expected at all. Yes, it is a book about a girl regretting her own suicide, but I feel like the vast majority of it is actually about domestic abuse and about Ellie's mom more or less keeping them in a situation where their lives are being threatened constantly and they face almost daily violence from Ellie's dad. As a domestic abuse survivor myself, I usually find stories like this cathartic and releasing, if that makes sense, but... *sigh* I wish I could come up with the right words to explain why this entire abuse depiction felt so exploitative and uncomfortable to me.

Beyond that, what I can put into words is how much this author's writing style doesn't agree with me. There are almost no contractions in the narrative or dialogue and the characters constantly phrase things in clunky, stilted ways that makes the entire reading experience flow poorly. There's a lot of potential in Callen's writing, but I do believe this book needed more editing and polishing.

I feel somewhat guilty for giving this book 2 stars, because the author's heart was clearly in a good place and I appreciate the attempt that was made here. That said, between the unenjoyable narrative voice and the unnecessarily constant barrage of violence and abuse... I can't recommend this book. I'm also going to be painfully honest here and say that, as another individual who has dealt with depression and suicidal ideation since I was a preteen, nothing about Ellie's story would have deterred me or given me hope to keep fighting. If anything, I think it would have made me feel even more bleak and miserable, and I'm honestly struggling a bit as I type this with the terrible mood A Breath Too Late put me in. And with that, I'm going to finish this review and go find something to focus on that's not quite so devastating.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Maria.
104 reviews68 followers
July 13, 2020
“We are birds with paper wings. Just because the wings were tattered, doesn’t mean they could never fly. It doesn’t mean that their little fragile lives were worth nothing.”

I don't think I'll ever forget Ellie's story. God, there's so much grief and helplessness.
And I want to kill Ellie's mother. I mean, it is when your daughter burned herself alive you remembered that you had to fight? Fucking coward!
Want to read
March 23, 2022
Update: have been assured is not 13RW and have bought book. Will be reading as soon as I feel like "chopping onions" 😭

Ugh, just reading the synopsis already makes me feel sad.

Really hope this isn't another 13 Reasons Why....
Profile Image for Isabella (The Feminist Bookworm).
437 reviews54 followers
May 7, 2020
Wow. This is the first book in 5+ years that made me cry. It was absolutely devastating but incredibly beautiful.

The best way to describe this book is that the main character is in the same predicament as Mia in If I Stay, except that she is actually dead. The main character is Ellie, who has recently died by suicide. She finds herself essentially a ghost still on earth, right beside her family and friends. The book itself is written in an epistolary format to a variety of different people and not-people. The letters are directed to her mother, her father, and her friend August, but also to life, death, life, darkness, and more as Ellie attempts to make sense of her life and how she got to where she is now. To be honest, I'm not doing a good job of explaining it, so I'll be clear: the letters are NOT suicide notes, they are written by her in death as she copes with her own death.

This book was so beautiful and yet so devastating. The prose is absolutely gorgeous -- just read the Goodreads summary, as that is reminiscent of the novel's prose. My heart broke while reading this book, and I know that it is going to change lives and help people in need from taking their own breath too late, and it will also help the loved ones of those in need.

TW: suicide, domestic violence
Profile Image for A.J..
Author 9 books228 followers
January 24, 2020
I received a physical ARC of this book as part of the Roaring 20s Debut group ARC tour. My opinion is my own and I am under no obligation to write this review.

Equal parts beautiful and devastating, A BREATH TOO LATE is not an easy book to read, but I absolutely believe it'll be a lifesaver to many.

Told from the perspective of Ellie Walker, a high school senior who's just committed suicide yet still lingers in her old home and around the people she used to know, there are no magic tricks to this story, no moments where Ellie breaks through the barrier of death and is able to touch people from her past life. I almost wanted there to be, if only to provide some comfort to the people grieving for her (and to myself as a reader). But Rocky Callen's story would have likely lost some of its impact if it'd resorted to a fabulist gimmick like that.

Instead, readers know in no uncertain terms that Ellie is gone. She doesn't get a second chance, or even a last ghostly word with her parents or close friend August. What's done is done, even if she regrets it now.

And that, I think, is what makes this story so impactful. It's the permanency of Ellie's decision that hits me the hardest as someone who struggled with depression when I was her age. I very well could have made a similar decision to Ellie at sixteen (or, more accurately, my attempt could have succeeded like Ellie's did and then I wouldn't be here now writing this). At that moment in my life, I wanted nothing more than relief from my emotional pain. With a decade and a half of hindsight, however, I'm so grateful for the life I've gotten to live--even the hard, painful parts that were overwhelming to experience.

You may not have that perspective as a teenager, which is why A BREATH TOO LATE is such a critical read. It illustrates so well how permanent a decision like this is, on top of shining a light on the toll domestic abuse can take on every victim.

A BREATH TOO LATE is a stellar read that I would recommend to anyone, with a caveat: make sure you're in a good place emotionally before diving into this because its gorgeous prose comes with a heavy dose of reality.
Profile Image for Sierra Elmore.
Author 2 books226 followers
June 30, 2020
I was lucky enough to read a very early version of this story, and I still remember how beautiful and wonderful and haunting it is. Rocky's crafted a beautiful story, and I can't wait to see the final version!
Profile Image for Katherine Hardisty-Cranstone.
246 reviews8 followers
February 8, 2020
I don't quite know how to review this book because it left me speechless. I'll start off that there are some triggers.

TRIGGERS: Domestic violence, abuse, depression, suicide

But wow did this book need to be written. It follows the story of Ellie who witnesses the lives of those she knew after she commits suicide. It is written as letters as she follows the threads of her life that led her to take her own life.

Rocky Callen weaves a BEAUTIFUL tale of love, loss, and hope in the face of so much darkness. Her atmospheric prose and vivid, honest imagery made this book difficult to put down. It is a difficult to walk the line of pain and hope, but Callen danced on that tightrope like a seasoned circus performer. For anyone suffering from those triggers mentioned above, I honestly recommend this book. Find a friend or trusted adult who will read it with you, if you like. Take it in chunks, but know that by the end of Ellie's story, my heart was both broken and healed.

Callen paints a picture with her words like the boy in her story, like Ellie on her shoes that shows how beautiful the world really is. This book and this author are now absolute auto-buys in my opinion.
Profile Image for Ashleigh.
166 reviews32 followers
May 5, 2022
Heartbreakingly tragic but beautifully rendered.

I have never been so emotionally battered by a book.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,305 reviews220 followers
May 2, 2020

Ellie wakes up dead after committing suicide. She watches as her mother and best friend August mourn. Regretting her choice, she begins each chapter addressing a person or thing, trying to figure out why she killed herself.

Rocky Callen pens beautiful pose, words that were a pleasure to read, despite the bleak nature of A BREATH TOO LATE. Dark books are among my favorites to read, but I didn’t connect with Ellie and her story. Callen starts with a preface that she wanted to write a boom that would have helped her as a teen and urges depressed and suicidal readers to reach out. She wanted to show Ellie’s regret as a deterrent against committing suicide. I don’t think she achieved that goal. I think the book has a greater chance of romanticizing suicide by how deeply her mother and August are pained.

As Ellie goes back over her life her relationship with August and the domestic violence she and her father endure, her only joy in life seemed to be August, though she claimed to want to become a writer.

A BREATH TOO LATE has been my biggest disappointment of 2020 to date, though Callen is a writer I will look for in the future. Despite beautiful writing, I wouldn’t recommend this book and certainly not to depressed clients because of the potential of glamorizing the regret people feel after her suicide.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,434 reviews234 followers
August 2, 2020
After years of abuse, Ellie has lost all hope, but finds herself lingering after dying by suicide. As she attempts to reconstruct the events leading to her death, she discovers quite a few shining pieces of hope in the rubble.

Look, this book is about a young woman, who chose death over continuing to live in an abusive and oppressive home. Yes, it's devastating at times, but it's also absolutely beautiful.

The story begins after Ellie's death, and as she watches others grieve for her, she starts to remember her past and the events leading up to her suicide. Ellie's life was full of painful moments courtesy of her abusive and controlling father. However, there were also these intermittent periods of joy, which she was unable to see, when she was alive.

Those memories were utterly beautiful, and I was grateful I got to see them, but seeing them made me grieve even more for Ellie. I knew she felt trapped in her life, and she had lost so much. Her father had stolen so much from her. He robbed her of her hardworking, stable, fun, and reliable mom. He took her best friend from her, and isolated her. And, when he stripped her of all hope, she found herself pulled into an inescapable blackhole of depression.

And, I cried. I cried for the future Ellie would never have, for the things she would never experience, and the freedom she would never enjoy. I cried for her mother, who didn't actually give up. I cried for August, who never stopped caring for her. Seeing how much these two loved Ellie made me hope she really wasn't gone, but she was.

Still, I am thankful for this beautiful book. It is not a romanticized story of suicide by any means. It's about someone's regret in not being able to see the good things hidden among the bad. This book is an important reminder to someone like me, who lives with depression, to seek those points of light in my life. To look for those pockets of hope, when I am feeling hopeless. I think it can be a good message for many people.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Cheryl.
968 reviews100 followers
June 8, 2020
A Breath Too Late is a heartbreaking, moving, intense, yet beautifully written novel about a young teen, Ellie Walker, who, after years of living in an abusive home situation, ends her life during her senior year of high school.

The novel begins when the spirit of Ellie relives her life as it unfolded prior to her death. Through this experience, she is able to come to an understanding of not only her thoughts and feelings, but also those of her mother and her close friend, August. She comes to regret her decision after seeing the effect her suicide has on those she loved, as well as seeing the possibilities that were open to her. Unfortunately she was unable to see them at the time because of her overwhelming feelings of despair and depression.

This book is heart wrenching and difficult to read because of the subject matter. As a result, it may not be a good choice for some readers. However, the topic of teen suicide is dealt with in a thought provoking and sensitive manner. At the end of the novel, author Rocky Callen gives very helpful resources for anyone dealing with suicidal thoughts.

Thank you to author Rocky Callen, Henry Holt and Company, and Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Renata.
428 reviews279 followers
May 7, 2020
I initially gave this book 3 stars but I thought deeper about it and I believe it deserves 4 stars. I think this book is sad, truly heartbroken but so beautifully written, like I couldn’t stop reading and you can feel and understand the character so well it deserves more. If anyone thinks about reading this book, there are some triggering warnings, obviously the suicide but also an abusive father.

We follow the story of Ellie, a student in her last year of high school that ends her life one day, and the story starts of her seeing the things as if she’d be there, but actually she’s just a spirit. You can see her thoughts and a few flashbacks, her friendship and relationships and specially her mental health and her thoughts during all these hardships.

I think the author made an amazing job by portraying the right moments and thoughts? I guess, I’m just in a moment in my life where I truly needed this book and perhaps it helped me somehow. As always, if you need help, I know it’s not easy to open up or tell what truly is going on, but you’re not alone and you matter.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!
Profile Image for Amy.
1,063 reviews32 followers
November 23, 2019
Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.

OK-full disclosure, I finished this book a week ago and I am STILL thinking about it. I have struggled a bit with writing a review, not because I didn't know what to say (it's amazing, it's impactful, it's important) but that I wasn't sure I was going to say what needs to be said about this book in a way that would convince others to read it. Because you need to. Trust me on this. You do. It will leave you breathless and angry and sad and heartbroken. But you need to read it.

Ellie has died by suicide. This happens in the first chapter. The rest of the book is written as a series of letters to the things and people she left behind (Dear momma, Dear father, Dear life, Dear . . . ) as Ellie struggles to comes to terms with what has happened to herself. Because, you see, at first she doesn't realize she has actually died. And as the memories come flooding back, and as she watches the world she left behind try to make sense of a life without her, she begins to realize how much she didn't understand. And how much she regrets her choices. It is this regret that coats the entire story and gives it its power. You can taste it on your tongue, heavy and bitter and ashy, throughout. You know how the story turns out, because it happens at the beginning. But with the regret choking your throat, you hope for a miracle. You hope for a turn of fantasy or whimsy. You hope it's just like in It's a Wonderful Life and we will all wake up at the end.

But this is real life. And Callen's debut novel showcases this in all of beautiful brutality.

Highly recommend. This is a first purchase type of book for all collections serving young adult patrons. Recommended for grades 9 and up.
Profile Image for Nicole Kronzer.
Author 2 books98 followers
January 8, 2020
A BREATH TOO LATE is heartbreakingly wonderful.

I teach high school English and creative writing, and whenever a book with suicide themes comes up, I worry for my students and how suicide can become glorified. Our district was named a “suicide contagion zone” a number of years ago—this is an issue that is always on my heart and mind. This book acknowledges and names without glorifying—it’s a remarkable feat.

I love the two timelines. The characters are believable and I feel so much for all of them. I cried and cried.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,408 reviews190 followers
June 17, 2021
Such a powerful book, but also my heart hurts.

The day after seventeen year old Ellie commits suicide, she is trapped in a sort of out of body experience where she sees the lives of those close to her. This book is so emotionally wrought, it's very hard to review this. A Breath Too Late is a character study of how tangled relationships can be and how abuse can damage and twist those relationships.

Y'all I hurt after reading this. Internally I had all the tears. But seeing the reactions to Ellie's suicide and how she was powerless to help those close to her gave me way too many emotions. I highly recommend reading this book.

And if you need help, please reach out to someone you can trust.
Profile Image for Dante.
Author 2 books249 followers
December 17, 2019

When I first read the description for A BREATH TOO LATE by Rocky Callen, I knew it was one of those books that I would feel in my soul.

I wasn't wrong.

The book is about a seventeen year old girl named Ellie who, after dying by suicide, finds herself stuck. Stuck in memories, stuck in depression, and stuck in the aftermath of a world where she no longer lives and is forced to watch the people around her process their grief. I've lost people to this disease. It's a subject that always hits home, but this one felt special.

The cover of this book is so haunting and lovely. The beautiful pinks and purples, the starry details, and the face that disappears to make place for stars. The book itself, written in an epistolary format features letters written from Ellie to everyone in her life from her mother, to her lifelong friend August, Depression, and even Death. It follows not only Ellie watching her loved ones grieve, but also dives into her memories as she pieces together the every moment that brought her there.

The subject of the story might be heart breaking, but Callen's prose truly stand out. This is a book full of highlight-worthy lines. I found myself stopping to reread entire letters because of the way they hit me. I cried and cried for Ellie's mother. For Ellie. For what could have been.

You'd think a book like this would end on a note that felt hopeless. A girl lost her life. There is no coming back from that and you learn this on page one. But this book didn't feel hopeless in the end. It felt like a lifeline hug. A promise.
Profile Image for Nickole H.
114 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2021
Terribly gut wrenching, I started crying by page 20 and continued til the end.
Profile Image for Ramya.
222 reviews14 followers
July 16, 2022
"𝑾𝒆 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒃𝒐𝒙 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒔𝒐 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒈, 𝑰 𝒅𝒊𝒅𝒏'𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒖𝒓𝒚 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒊𝒏 𝒐𝒏𝒆"
Profile Image for Cynthia.
181 reviews28 followers
May 7, 2020
Ok, now that I’m done crying, I can compose my thoughts.

Rocky Callen has written a wildly impactful story full of hope amidst the sadness through it’s elegant, poetic prose and a creative epistolary structure. While the main character, Ellie has died by suicide, this isn’t a book that glorifies it nor shares specifics of how she dies. Ellie is a spirit not realizing what has happened as she visits her mama, August (childhood best friend and budding love interest), and father. She is inundated with memories and the effects of her choice on her loved ones as she tries to process her life and how she got here.

Ellie and her mom are victims of domestic violence, both physical, mental, and emotional as her father holds them hostage by his actions and nasty threats. You can feel the suffocation, the desperation, the giving up each time. It’s nauseating, yet sobering. I will say I did not like how descriptive certain scenes were with Ellie’s father hitting them; they cut deep and it’s painful to read. They don’t feel gratuitous, more like reality. But it’s extremely hard to stomach. Because it’s like just so, so freaking real. The words that accompany slam into you as well. It’s heavy. Super heavy. I am curious to read more reviews about this aspect of the book because I’m for sure still processing.

This isn’t a reason not to read the book, but a reason to read with a trusted, support network. It’s a story I felt I needed to bare witness to. Especially because some scenes were cathartic. If you’ve ever gone through any sort of abuse or depression, this book just holds you. It makes you look back on your life, the moments and the choices that have shaped your narrative (for better or worse) and I think that’s what it’s meant to do. It’s what I’m grateful that it does. I’m legit getting choked up just writing this.

I really really advocate that teens reading this have someone to help process the emotions it will stir, whether they can personally relate or not.

I can’t say more without spoiling the lovely scenes that make you ache for Ellie and what could have been *sobs*

A small note I have to add is that I wish there was more space in the book to discuss why victims don’t reach out, especially to the police. Like there is an absolute reality that invoking the state into these matters often makes things worse and more dangerous. The book does an incredible job of subtlety showcasing how isolated Ellie and her mom are. Ellie literally has no other friends. She only ever visits August, who she stops being friends with for about 6 years (!) and mentions maybe three other classmates and teachers at her school a handful of times. She has no support system and her father has done everything in his power to fracture the closeness between Ellie and her mom to the point where they can’t even be support for one another, at least that’s what Ellie thinks. That broke me. It’s a short book, so I understand it’s hard to dig deep in every aspect. I just think it’s important to know there isn’t an easy solution and that while the ending is hopeful, there’s a long, long road ahead. Survivors need judgement-free support, constant reminders they made the right choice, and they need to be believed. Always.


TW: suicide, domestic abuse
Profile Image for Kali Cole.
345 reviews34 followers
May 24, 2020
This book is devastatingly beautiful. I really loved how this is written and how every page feels poetic and raw. It almost reminded me of Girl in Pieces which is one of my favorite books. It read as if the reader is outside looking in which I find to be really compelling. Trigger warnings: Depression and Abuse are the key topics in this book and the abuse is mildly detailed just to let you all know before you pick this book up. This is definitely a necessary and impactful read that everyone should look into to.
Profile Image for romy.
77 reviews19 followers
February 9, 2022
hold on. hold ON. i need to get my shit together because right now i am a big sobbing mess. i don’t think i’ll be able to write a good review tonight so i’ll probably write it in a few days. i hadn’t read anything this devastating in months
Profile Image for Kait.
689 reviews36 followers
May 5, 2023
Wow.. 🥺 My heart hurts.

As someone who also struggled with depression and had “thoughts” in high school, this hit me so hard. Gosh, I honestly have no words.

This was so tragic but still somehow beautiful.
Profile Image for Susan Ballard.
1,329 reviews53 followers
April 28, 2020
4.5 ⭐️

*Trigger warnings: suicide, physical abuse, depression. (This review will mention these issues as well).

This isn’t the first Young Adult book to be about suicide, and it won’t be the last. It is an all too common theme in YA novels, and a sad reality. So what makes A Breath Too Late worth reading? It’s brutally honest and raw. It does not glamorize suicide, in fact just the opposite.
Seventeen-year-old Ellie has just taken her own life when she “awakes” in a state of limbo. Not fully aware of what happened, she begins to realize she has the ability to still look in on the life she chose to leave. Ellie is now a spectator to the devastation she has left behind.
Momma - now curled in a ball clutching a teddy bear - Ellie’s childhood teddy bear. They were going to fly away together one day, to the mountains, to be free from - him. But now Ellie’s gone.
August - the boy whose art always brightened her dark days. His smile took away her pain if only for a moment. Now Ellie watches as August smashes bottles and cries out her name as he falls into his mom’s arms.
Rocky Callen does a great job of showing that Ellie had times of happiness over her life even though she lived in a terrible environment. She had hopes and dreams, people who loved her, but depression clouded her vision and the weight felt too heavy at times.
Ellie, having this rare opportunity to see other’s perspectives, now wishes she could have: one more smile, one more word, one more touch - just one more breath. There are no second chances in this story; it is a truthful look at the heart-wrenching consequences. Yet, it’s not a completely bleak story. I think it reveals that we should say the words we need to say, ask for the help we need - without shame, and always have hope for a better tomorrow.
[Please be sure to read the author’s notes.]

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and @henryholtbooks for this advanced copy for review. Get your copy today!
Profile Image for Carolyn.
393 reviews
February 17, 2020
Suicide takes the life of 17 year old Ellie. Instead of moving on she stays and relives parts of her life and witnesses the aftermath. Haunting and beautifully written. I think every book gives us something, new knowledge, new perspectives, happiness, etc. Depression and domestic abuse are very real. What this book gave me is a determination to listen more closely, dig a little deeper and be more aware of what friends and people I interact with may be going through.
Profile Image for Melissa Lebata.
12 reviews
November 2, 2020
Wow! Finished this in 3 hours! I couldn't stop turning the pages. Suicide is always such a hard topic to read about! What brought the person/character to that choice?!?! This book does not glorify suicide but rather reminds the audience to live before you are a breath too late. Parents, always ask questions and be there to listen to the small things so they will also tell you the big things!
Profile Image for Dana.
719 reviews40 followers
Want to read
October 15, 2019
10/15/19 - I can tell this will be triggering for me, but I want to read it to give me hope on my bad days.
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