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Try Not to Breathe Hardcover – January 19, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


*“Hubbard is outstandingly successful at capturing the frustration of not having the words, especially in a culture that does not encourage boys to express what Ryan is feeling.” (starred review)

Publishers Weekly

*“Evocative symbols, carefully drawn details and hints of romance enrich a spare, redemptive character study. Haunting, hopeful and masterfully crafted.” (starred review) — Kirkus Reviews

"The affecting story addresses issues of real concern without being maudlin. It is well paced and includes a bit of a twist near the end. This poignant novel about a sensitive teen trying to find his spot in the world will definitely find a YA readership." — School Library Journal

About the Author

Jennifer R. Hubbard lives in the Philadelphia area. She is a hiker, a chocolate lover, and a night person who believes that mornings were meant to be slept through. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines. Her published books include the contemporary young-adult novels The Secret Year, Try Not To Breathe, and Until It Hurts To Stop.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (January 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670013900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670013906
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,942,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm hardly an expert on suicide but I've always thought it was preceded by a momentous event, which after thinking more about it doesn't make any sense at all. If it was, less people would be successful in their attempts because others around them would be watching or worrying that this might happen. More often than not it seems that if a person commits suicide, others around are puzzled and wonder how it all came to this. They tell themselves, if they just would've seen the signs they could've done something. This is the case with Ryan.

Ryan has everything going for him. His parents have money, he lives in an amazing new house, and he's a high school junior with his whole life ahead of him. Yet, Ryan tried to commit suicide earlier in the year and is trying to get back into a "normal" life after coming out of a mental hospital. He's heard the rumors about him in school but no one will actually come out and say anything to his face. That is until he meets Nicki, a fellow high-school student. Nicki, it seems, does not possess an edit button, and has little in the way of inhibitions. (I loved this girl!) She just comes out and asks any question about anything, and Ryan, in spite of himself, can't help but answer. Nicki has a tragic past that makes Ryan feel obligated to help her so he ends up telling her things he hasn't even told his doctors. Before Ryan knows it, he's getting close to Nicki in ways he never expected!

I really enjoyed this story. Even though it's about a very serious and a potentially very depressing subject, the story felt very positive throughout. It really makes you think about how you treat people on a daily basis and how your actions could possibly affect them. It also makes you think about how profoundly people are affected by suicide, even when it's an unsuccessful attempt. I look forward to reading more from Jennifer Hubbard.
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Format: Hardcover
Try Not to Breathe is a touching story about the isolation - and the drama - of being a teenager. My advance review copy was generously provided by the good people at Penguin Young Readers Group.

Ryan Turner has secrets. Secret fears, longings, deeds, feelings - you name it, Ryan has one sequestered deep inside. The only thing he can't keep secret is, perhaps, the one thing he most wishes he could hide - the fact that he tried (quite unsuccessfully) to kill himself.

In the wake of his failed suicide attempt, Ryan is forced to come to terms with the events leading up to his decision to start the car in the closed garage and his subsequent stint in a psychiatric facility when a girl from school begins questioning him about his motivations to better understand her father's successful suicide years before. The relationship between Ryan and Nikki is complex, convoluted, and occasionally a bit codependent.

But that seems to be the nature of all of Ryan's relationships.

The parallel storyline about the messy aftermath as he and his parents live with the consequences of Ryan's actions is equally fraught with its own series of difficult adjectives. As the family attempts to rebuild a fragile trust, Ryan is confronted by not only his own demons but also those of his parents, and the delicate manner in which Hubbard addresses the insecurities and emotional turmoil of that aftermath is heartbreaking and cautiously optimistic - often at the same.
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Format: Hardcover
16-year-old Ryan somehow managed to survive his suicide attempt. Now he's out of the hospital and facing the rest of his life. Unfortunately, it doesn't look much better than before the attempt. He's at a new school with no friends, and everyone knows he's the guy who tried --- and failed --- to kill himself. The only bright spot are the two friends he made in the hospital, Val and Jake. The painful rebuilding the three did together in therapy has brought them closer than anyone could hope to be, but Ryan secretly wants to further his relationship with Val in the romance department. Unfortunately, they all live hours apart and try to keep in touch electronically, but it's just not the same. Besides, Ryan doesn't think he has the courage to suggest a risky step like romance.

Ryan does have the courage, or maybe a lingering death wish, to embrace the thundering river and waterfall near his house. He thrives on standing beneath the dangerously pounding waters, as if he can absorb the nourishment needed to continue living. That's where he meets 15-year-old Nicki, who seeks him out for some answers to her father's suicide when she was little. Ryan, though, doesn't have any answers for her.

But as Nicki persists, Ryan eventually begins to open up to her. He even agrees to go with her to various psychics, even though he thinks it's all a pile of rubbish. As their friendship grows, so does their trust. He even confides his crush on Val to her, and Nicki insists on playing matchmaker. And then he dares to confess his deep, dark secret about a crime that he hasn't told to anybody, not even his therapist. A huge cloud begins to evaporate from his shoulders. Even though neither Ryan nor Nicki have any answers, together they may be able to make some sense of the world.
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