Whenever she felt overwhelmed, Kacey Cleary’s mother taught her to stop, pause and take ten tiny breaths to calm down.
Four years after a tragic accident that took her parents, her boyfriend and left Kacey recovering, she’s still using the technique to try and cope with the wounds she still feels — physical, mental and emotional. After her appointed guardians gamble away she and her younger sister’s inheritance and the uncle makes inappropriate advances at the younger sister, the two escape to Miami. Living in a low-rent apartment, Kacey begins to make friends and tries to find a way to help she and her sister play the hand the world has dealt them.
But as much as Kacey tries, there’s still part of her that is angry and hurting from the accident four years before. As various people try to get close to her, she continues to push them away, preferring to hold the world at arm’s length and not acknowledging or dealing with the pain she’s still feeling.
K.A. Tucker’s Ten Tiny Breaths is a fascinating character study of Kacey. And while the novel does have some of the conventions of your typical romance novel (there’s a hunky neighbor who makes Kacey goes weak in the knees from the first time she meets him and there’s even a bit of a love triangle plotline), the story unfolds as almost the opposite of your typical romance. A lot of that lies at the feet of the main character, Kacey, who is conflicted, angry and sarcastic. Kacey’s way of dealing with her family’s death (at first) is by using alcohol, drugs and sex. Determined now to be a better older sister, she’s working to be responsible, even if that means denying herself all the things she wants — and it’s not just the hunky guy in the apartment near by. It’s also putting her dreams of further education on hold to help save up for her sister’s college fund.
At several points during the story, Tucker zigs when you think she’s going to zag and ends up making this novel a much more rewarding and interesting experience for it. There are moments in the story that I became frustrated with Kacey, but I believe that Tucker intended that reaction.
Ten Tiny Breaths wisely focuses on a character arc that is highlighted by romantic elements. An interesting novel that may lead me to giving other installments in this series a try.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.