Kayce was in a horrible car accident when she was fifteen, the only survivor in her car, she was conscious to realize her mom, her dad, her best friend and her boyfriend all died around her. She felt the life leave her boyfriend, but was unable to get her hand out of his for hours...
After their parents' death, Kayce and Olivia went to live with their aunt and uncle - Kayce only got there a year later having to go through extensive physical therapy because her whole right side was shattered. Kayce's soul was shattered as well, and she didn't cope well, drugs, sex, violence to try to continue to stay numb were par for the course until Olivia cried her unease and her fair of losing Kayce as well.
Yeah, even the readers need to think about breathing while reading Ten Tiny Breaths, that’s for sure. Between forgetting to breathe in places because I just wanted Kacey to be OK, and not being able to breathe because I was ugly-crying so hard it was impossible I figure the title is one of the more apt titles I’ve seen in a long time!
Ten Tiny Breaths start with Kayce and Olivia fleeing their aunt and uncle’s house with only one suitcase each, after their uncle had come into Olivia’s room during the night, acting inappropriately. Kacye swore she would take care of her sister, making sure she could finish high-school and live her dream by going to Princeton just like their parents had done. When they arrive in Miami in front of their new home, it isn’t as nice and shiny as it had seemed on the web-site, but it looks quite good anyway. On the first day, Kayce meets Trent in the laundry room, and for the first time in years, all the walls she’s built around herself seem to be thinner as she notices how good-looking he is, and that she might actually still have feelings.
As Ten Tiny Breaths continue, the readers follow Kayce mostly, but the other characters are important as well, both Olivia and Trent, as well as their other next-door-neighbours; Storm and her five-year-old daughter Mia. Storm even helps Kayce get a better-paying job than serving coffee at Starbucks, and serving drinks in a strip-club isn’t as bad as Kayce first thought. The tip is awesome, and both the boss and the bouncers are taking good care of everybody who works there, without ever being inappropriate.
Kayce is a character that is so broken it is amazing she can function at all, but she does, and little by little, she finally starts working through her grief of losing four people she cared about at the same time. Having new people to care about both scares her and makes her feel a little better, the fear of losing them always at the forefront of her mind. Although Kayce is broken, she does her best to take good care of Olivia, who is the good girl , always helpful and loving, caring and polite. It seems as if the two sisters are polar opposites, but they are more alike than they realize, they just deal with their issues differently.
All through Ten Tiny Breaths, Kayce thinks about a phrase her mother used to tell her when she was upset, sad or stressed Breathe, just breathe. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them. Kayce doesn’t understand what her mother meant by that, but she tries it every time she feels overwhelmed – which is quite often.
Trent becomes very important in Kayce’s life, as she lets herself feel something around him, and she goes on dates with him. Trent is always wanting to take things really slow, and at the same time he is often pushing her to open up to him. Asking her questions about both her tattoos and her scars, and he even takes her to a support group for people who suffer from PTSD. Listening to other people’s stories about loved ones who died pushes Kayce almost over the edge, and she runs away from Trent, extremely angry at him for taking her there in the first place.
The story is beautifully written, so poignant I cried several time, and I have to admit there was some real ugly-crying towards the end, when I realized something just before Kayce did – and I could just see the heartache that was coming her way – again. The characters are very well described, and even the secondary characters are present and fleshed out. The narrative is in first person point of view, from Kayce’s side, and seeing what goes on inside of her is both scary and heartbreaking. I don’t know how someone can survive as much heartache in one time, and that is why I could feel so close to Kayce, even if we are nothing at all alike!
Suddenly I’m feeling all kinds of wrong for labeling him creepy. He can’t be a creep. He’s too beautiful and too nice.
I’m battling this internal urge to both push him away and hold him close.
His dimples are in full force now. “I want to make you smile. For real. Always. We’re going to go for dinners, and see movies, and walk on the beach. We’ll go hang gliding, or bungee jumping, or whatever you want to do. Whatever makes you smile and laugh more.” His fingers toy with my bottom lip. “Let me make you smile.”
She rolls her eyes. “Oh, come on, Kacey. Don’t be naïve. He’s a guy. He knows what I do for a living. There’s only one thing he’s interested in and it’s not my cooking.” I shrug. “I don’t know about that. I might do you for more of that veal Parmesan.”
I shrug. “I dunno. That’s what my mom always used to say. If you figure it out, let me know, okay?” She nods slowly and then I watch as she breathes in and out slowly, and I imagine she’s counting in her head. That makes me smile. Like I’m passing on a little bit of my mother to Storm.
And something’s just different with Trent. He’s like ripe watermelon after a lifetime of thirst. He’s like air after years underwater. He’s like life.
I definitely recommend Ten Tiny Breaths to all readers who are up to reading a totally heart-breaking story. There is a lot of tough stuff going on, but through it all there is a sliver of hope, a sliver of love, a sliver of life.