Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Breath Too Late” as Want to Read:
A Breath Too Late
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Breath Too Late

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  653 ratings  ·  207 reviews
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 betw
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Breath Too Late, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Shirley Ririhena I don't remember curse words being used but there's few scene with verbal abuse and degrading words. As for sex, it has one make out scene and implied…moreI don't remember curse words being used but there's few scene with verbal abuse and degrading words. As for sex, it has one make out scene and implied sex.(less)
Alicia Neither, it’s rather heartbreaking 💔
These Violent Delights by Chloe GongAll the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn  GraceAll Your Twisted Secrets by Diana UrbanWhere Dreams Descend by Janella AngelesThe Outlands by Tyler Edwards
YA Debuts 2020
151 books — 605 voters
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne CollinsChain of Gold by Cassandra ClareOne of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManusA ​Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa TahirImagine Me by Tahereh Mafi
YA Novels of 2020
796 books — 2,959 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  653 ratings  ·  207 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Breath Too Late
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
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 t
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
“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!
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
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... *s ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
Ugh, just reading the synopsis already makes me feel sad.

Really hope this isn't another 13 Reasons Why....
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Sierra Elmore
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! ...more
Isabella (The Feminist Bookworm)
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 n
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

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 th
Katherine Hardisty-Cranstone
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 da
Samantha (WLABB)
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 t
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreakingly tragic but beautifully render.

I have never been so emotionally battered by a book.
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
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,
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 re
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Anandi Puritipati
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fuck you. Fuck me. Fuck.
Nicole Kronzer
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
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 th
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing

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,
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 wi
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
between 4.5 and 5 stars out of 5 stars
Kali Cole
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 sho ...more
rein larue ☾i will never be good enough ☽
i freaking loved this. read it super quick. we shared tears, laughs and everything in between.
read for dewey's 24 hour readathon
Susan Ballard
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 15, 2019 marked it as to-read
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.
Donna Hines
Some thrillers are just too far fetched for one's appetite and this one was somewhere in the middle of that road.
It goes down with Ellie waking up dead after committing suicide.
The reasons for such action are quite dramatic and traumatizing as you can imagine and the back and forth between characters including August and her father are riveting.
What's lesser known is the remorse and regret she feels and the wild emotions as readers go through it all with her.
That connection is quite unique and p
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh man.

I don't normally write reviews, as I typically use goodreads as a "To Read" list and to keep track of what I actually end up reading.

That being said, I felt like I needed to say something about this one. I was expecting to be triggered by this book, but I wasn't expecting it to have such a therapeutic effect on me. I've struggled with depression since I was 14 years old, and suicidal thoughts are no stranger to me. I needed this book - even at 40 years old. I felt like it helped break o
Melissa Lebata
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
this do be hitting close to home doe

*MAJOR tw for domestic/physical abuse
Jenny’s Books
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Whao since i started reading this i could not put the book down at all.. this is something way better then 13 reasons why.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Cover Help 1 16 May 19, 2020 12:37PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lucky Ones
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
  • Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard, #1)
  • If These Wings Could Fly
  • My Dark Vanessa
  • All Eyes on Her
  • The Grace Kelly Dress
  • 10 Blind Dates
  • A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)
  • You Deserve Each Other
  • Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1)
  • All Adults Here
  • The New David Espinoza
  • Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes
  • Zombie Blondes
  • The Gravity of Us
  • No True Believers
  • The Lightness of Hands
See similar books…
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 Fi

Articles featuring this book

Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to relish the latest works from beloved Hispanic and Latinx authors like Isabel Allende, Natalia...
140 likes · 98 comments
“We are birds with paper wings. Just because the wings were tattered, doesn't mean they could never fly. It doesn't mean their little fragile lives were worth nothing.” 8 likes
“We were locked in a box for so long, I didn't want to bury you in one.” 3 likes
More quotes…