Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: Just Remember to Breathe


Just Remember to Breathe (Thompson Sisters, #1)Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Series: Thompson Sisters, #1
Release date: November 12th 2013
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Source: Author for review
Paperback, 280 pages
Buy: Amazon


I’d like to be able to say that Just Remember to Breathe was a complete waste of my time, but it wasn’t. Yes, most of it was downright horrible, the writing isn’t even worth thinking about, it needs hours and hours with a decent editor and the author should never, under any circumstances, write from a female perspective again. But underneath the cheesy love story was a whole different story that was touching, genuine and honest. That story, the story of a young soldier, badly wounded in Afghanistan, who just wants to find a way to get rid of the pain and the guilt and live his life as normally as possible, is a story that should have been the main focus of this book. That’s the story I wanted to read.

But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Just Remember to Breathe is the first book in a series called Thompson sisters. From what I understand (and I did some research for the good of mankind), each sister will get her book (Julia already has hers), Nora Roberts style. I have no idea what made Charles Sheehan-Miles, an ex soldier who currently works with disabled veterans, think that he can write a New Adult love story, and in alternating points of view at that, but Nora Roberts he’s not. He has no understanding of his female characters, which was more than obvious from Alex’s point of view. It made me cringe at times, that’s how bad it was, and Alex herself was as plastic as they come.

About Alex and Dylan’s relationship, I’ll say this (and try not to grit my teeth in the process): they met as teens on a trip to Israel and stayed more or less together for years, even with four thousand miles between them. Then, while he was in Afghanistan, they broke up over a misunderstanding and he was wounded a few days later. Alex didn’t hear from him again until he showed up at Columbia and they were forced to do research together. The entire thing was blatantly unbelievable and cheesy, to the point of being laugh out loud funny on several occasions, and not at all touching like it was meant to be.

While in college, Alex was sexually assaulted twice by the same guy, a family friend her parents wholeheartedly approved of. This is the part that truly made me angry because it was handled superficially with absolutely no understanding for the women that go through such a thing. It was all a huge cliché and the author insisted on using those empty phrases you can read in cheap self-help articles, probably because he didn’t know any better. The rapist was just as bad, poorly written, made to be either incredibly stupid or just begging to be caught. The entire thing was thrown in just to create an extra obstacle for Alex and Dylan and I resented that.

There were two significant relationships in this book, and while Alex and Dylan’s oftentimes wandered into ridiculous(ly unbelievable) territory, the relationship between Dylan and his fellow soldier and friend Sherman was simply wonderful. Those few brief conversations between them, their loyalty and friendship, the genuine emotions I felt, the understanding, all of it made this book worth reading, despite so many unforgivable problems.

I think Charles Sheehan-Miles should have just written what I suspect he really wanted to write, even though it probably wouldn’t sell as well. If he ever decides to write a story about a young man struggling with PTSD, war injuries, brain damage and guilt, I’ll be glad to read it. But more if this? No, thank you.

Honestly, I hate doing this to a self-published author, I do, but honesty above all, right? You won’t have any trouble finding many four and five star reviews, so please read some of those too before making your decision. My opinion is just one of many.


16 comments:

  1. This sounds like it had so much potential to be an amazing story, much like Something Like Normal, but it just fell flat. Unrealistic narration, plastic characters, and a rape thrown in for the sake of DRAMA? Ugh, that makes my blood boil, honestly. Still, I feel like you did an amazing job highlighting exactly what went wrong for you in this book, all while keeping the few positives at the forefront of this review, so excellent job as always!

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  2. Good editors are so incredibly necessary -- as are beta readers and critique partners. Sounds like there's potential there but the author might need someone who's brutally honest (and a great editor) to read his stuff before publication. It can be tough and heartbreaking to have someone rip your work apart but editors make it better!

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  3. I have heard so many people say that they have loved this so to see that you didn't surprises me! Gosh, I think after reading your review I am not sure I even want to bother with it. I can handle using my imagination a little in contemporaries but to add super cheesy to the mix as well just isn't worth it!
    Thanks for being so honest in your review!

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  4. Hmmm. Parts of this, mainly the soldier trying to recover from his tour in Afghanistan, sound really interesting and like something I would want to read. However, I don't like when something as serious as rape is tossed into a story simply to create an obstacle the lead couple needs to get over or around in order to be together, especially if it's not even given ample page time to be dealt with. Still, it's at least good that there was potential in the aforementioned soldier recovery plotline:)

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  5. Sigh.....this exactly why I have grown extremely leery of self pubbed stuff. I cannot stand reading stuff anymore that is not properly edited. I spend some much time editing in my head that I can't focus on the story. I absolutely agree about the whole rape thing, I hate it when someone tosses in something disconcerting like that and then offers no resolution or hope to deal with it especially when you are writing in the YA genre. Anyway thanks for being honest and sparing me from a bad read.

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  6. I haven't read this but based on what you're sharing, I think I'd prefer to read a story about a young man suffering from PTSD than an NA love story. Thanks for offering your honest view on this, Maja!

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  7. Oh I think I wouldn't like the female in the book either. Plastic? No thanks. I would think that if he could write PTSD, he should be able to write a female who had to deal with rape. Also, I wouldn't think it would be that hard to talk to women in this area instead of going to a self-help book. Nope, don't think this one is for me.

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  8. Aw sorry this one didn't work for you. SOunds like a great premise and story under there somewhere, but not able to break through.

    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  9. This is a real shame, because it sounds like this author has a lot to bring to a story about a wounded war vet recovering from his experiences. For the record, I would be interested in reading that kind of story too. But I can understand the pressure to add in romance and a whole host of other items on the new adult checklist. All of this sounds like an author trying to mold his story to suit trends, not writing what he really knows, or even wants to write, deep down. But the worst part to me is throwing in a rape as a relationship obstacle, and not diving into the repercussions in a satisfying way. I will not be reading this one; thanks for your honesty and this thoughtful review!

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  10. Yikes, I started reading your review and was already impressed with how you managed to finish this book. Why is it that so many authors cannot see how seriously rape and sexual assault must be treated in literature? I don't think I was surrounded by superficial reactions to rape and sexual assault, but more and more I'm thinking I was intellectually privileged. :(

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  11. Ah, it's such a shame that the author made the sexual assault as something that can be easily brushed. This book seems to have many potentials, anyway. And I'm not fan of superficial female narration, so I think I'll steer clear out of this one. :)

    Sorry this is not one for you, Maja. Hopefully you're going to read a good book soon! Thank you for your honest, wonderful review! <3

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  12. I hate writing negative reviews too (especially when I like or admire the author), but it's definitely honesty above all. I'm sorry this didn't work for you all too well. Ridiculous or unbelievable story lines frustrate me more than they probably should, so I guess I'll steer clear of this one. It doesn't sound like anything I'd like, truthfully. Fantastic review as always and I hope your next read is better!

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  13. Oh Maja I'm loling over here! No really, I've read the book and needless to say loved it. I do understand all your points but for me the writing wasn't so bad. Maybe it'd be better from male POV but well I've read worse. Also I don't like Nora Robers for some reason. We're all different it seems ;) PS For me Julia's book was better.

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  14. Oh, Maja, I love your reviews so much! They're always beautifully written and so honest. Even when it's a negative review, you always write with much respect, which I really like. I'm so sorry this book wasn't very good. Self-published authors are a slippery slope--some are extremely amazing, and others fall flat. I'm sorry to hear this time it was the latter. The cheesiness of the book really does seem off-putting, and the fact that the author didn't handle the girl character or her sexual assaults well makes me cringe. I think I'll pass on this one.

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  15. "the author should never, under any circumstances, write from a female perspective again"

    lol - Sometimes they just don't get it. I can tell from the things you described, that this book would drive me absolutely crazy. So thank you for being honest. Now I don't have to waste my time on it. :)

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  16. I want the story about the solider returning home, and I found your review to be honest, and if the tale is rewritten I would read it, because it sounds like there is something wonderful here. Awesome review Maji!

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