Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Posted December 11, 2012 by Karen in Book Reviews / 4 Comments


Title: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K.A. Tucker
Genre: New Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

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**Warning – This is a Mature YA/New Adult book. Contains sex and violence**

Ten Tiny Breaths by Kathleen Tucker is a powerful heart wrenching story of profound loss, redemption, and self discovery.

“Just breathe,” my mom would say. “Ten tiny breaths … Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”

“That makes no sense!” I’d yell. I never understood. What the hell does a tiny breath do?”

“I didn’t understand it then. I do now.”

The book opens on a bus just arriving in Miami; two young sisters exit the bus, they are running away from their formers lives. One sister is fifteen year old raven haired Olivia (Livie) and the other is twenty year old auburn haired beauty Kacey Cleary, who is also the narrator of the tale. The sisters could be twin except for their age difference and hair color, and their personalities Livie is sweetness and light and Kacey isn’t.

“Where I’m a looming thundercloud, she’s the sunshine breaking through.”

“When they died and Mom’s sister took us in, Livie went out of her way to be an even better kid. I went in the opposite direction. Hard.”

They are running from their former existence, because for the past couple of years all they have been doing is existing, not really living. Their parents as well as Kacey’s best friend Jenny and her boyfriend Billy were all killed when a drunk driver ran into their car on the way home from Kacey’s rugby game. Kacey was also in the car and the only survivor in her parents’ vehicle. Kacey was trapped with her dying loved ones for hours; her hands in her boyfriend’s, embrace as he turned cold, and as death stole him away. Kacey is broken and her guardians, her Aunt Darla and Uncle Raymond, think she is damaged beyond repair. The girls haven’t run to Miami because of Kacey being broken, they’ve run because their Uncle Raymond turned out to be a pervert who tried to molest Livie.

Kacey for the past two years has tried to live for Livie, prior to that she had been self medicating with drugs, sex, and alcohol; in an attempt to cope with the guilt, rage and hate she feels as the only survivor of the accident. Kacey was severely hurt in the accident and it took a long time to physically recover, but she isn’t the same fun loving Kacey she was before the tragedy. After almost dying and for Livie’s sake she has put all her emotional feeling into kick boxing. The kick boxing is her therapy, her coping mechanism, but is it a long term solution for Kacey’s health or another stop gap measure like the drugs, sex and alcohol were?

In surviving Kacey has walled herself off from the world. Making sure no one gets close enough for her to feel deeply for them, she does this to keep herself safe. If she doesn’t feel and then if something happens to someone she knows, she won’t really care. It’s a true tragedy that no one helped this young girl with the deep emotional pain that the accident caused. To think that is real life a crash victim would get the mental health services she needs is a fantasy. Most people think time will heal all emotional wounds, but all time does in some cases is push those wounds deeper, embedding them into the survivors very soul, this is exactly what has happened to Kacey. The experience has changed her very nature and either she will rise up or fall into a oblivion. How will Livie survive without her; this is the only reason Kacey has not chosen oblivion. So despite her being classified as being unstable, here Kacey is in the heat of Miami; the not so legal guardian of her fifteen year old sister; ready to do her damnedest to see that Livie has a bright and stable future. What could possibly go wrong?

The girls start life in Miami in a furnished apartment which Kacey has found online. To say that the complex is rundown, would be a understatement; but beggars can’t be choosers. Their new landlord Mr. Tanner is gruff, but not a bad sort. He wants all his tenants to behave and not cause trouble.

Kacey gets a job at Starbucks, she poured over priced coffee in Michigan too. Livie enrolls in school and Kacey finds a gym to work out in, for her mental health. The girls end up meeting their “new neighbor, Nora, a.k.a ‘Storm,’ with giant, fake boobs.”, a single mom to enchanting young Mia. Kacey also has an encounter with another new tenant Trent, in the laundry room of the apartment complex. Trent is a gorgeous young man with a wicked fire in his eye, he gives off the vibe as being both prince and a rogue; the type of combination that Kacey despite her best efforts can’t resist.

The journey that Kacey, travels is not an easy one; it is a painful and messy; the risk to herself and those around her is immense. Will Kacey and Livie survive in this new life? As the relationship between Trent and Kacey grow, and even those relationships between Kacey, her neighbors, and co-workers grow; so does the vulnerability of Kacey’s psychological hold; which is little more than a house of cards. Kacey thanks to a job tip from Storm, is financially able to support herself and Livie.

As the story unfolds, those around her that have come to care about her, are worried about this bright wounded young woman. Will their concern and love be enough to save her? Can she build a relationship with Trent when her soul has been so devastated by the past. Even Trent’s past threatens Kacey’s new life. No Kacey can never be the person she was before the crash, but can she rebuild a life that is worth leaving? These and many more questions are explored in this story.

Ten Tiny Breaths has become one of my favorite reads of this year. The journey that I took with Kacey and company was often times hard. It is a powerfully raw, beautiful, and breathtaking book; which I highly recommend. This book had me crying in several places, and to be honest; I am not a cry because of a book kind of gal. I’m not even the cry because a horse broke my foot type of gal, so I am still stunned that I cried during my reading of this book. I also grinned, laughed and had some major Trent induced heart palpitations; and I am richer for having experience the wonderful story of Kacey’s journey. A journey that is surprising and thought provoking, and in the end I was taking ten tiny breaths.

An ARC copy was provided by the author for a fair and impartial review.

Publisher: Papoti Books
ISBN 10: 0991686004
ISBN 13: 978-0991686001

About Kathleen
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

One Signed Paperback copy of Ten Tiny Breaths

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