on July 30, 2014
Genres: YA Romance
Kelsie Sullivan’s life has changed forever. The once outgoing cheerleader has a secret to hide. The car accident that killed her best friend Jenna? She caused it.Amazon •
With an absent father and unforgiving stepmother, Kelsie has nowhere to turn. She manages her guilt and grief with razor blades. The fleeting release she experiences becomes an obsession and soon she's unable to hide it any longer. Once her cutting is revealed, Kelsie’s parents enroll her in a Wilderness Therapy program designed to rehabilitate troubled teens, but North Carolina is a world away from California.
Kelsie fights against everything the program has to offer until she befriends JC, a boy with a tortured past of his own. He’s also the only one who is able to ease her pain. The two grow close, but quickly discover that nature—both human and otherwise—can easily rip them apart.
Disclaimer: This book contains adult language, sexual themes, and explicit self-harm behavior. Parental discretion is recommended for those under 15 years of age
Mature-Content Rating: Language, Sexual Situations, Self-Harm
“I already knew that, but it’s nice to hear you say we’re the same disgusting flavor of cake. That might be the best thing a girl has ever said to me.”
Breaking Free starts with the main female character, Kelsie, in the present time talking with her therapist – her nanny waiting outside the door. After she receives a journal/notebook that belonged to JC, a friend she made in a wilderness therapy program over the summer, the story then starts switching from present time to Kelsie’s time in the program. The double perspective keeps the story interesting and going at a healthy pace, but the transition between the two are not executed very well. Usually Kelsie is talking to her nanny and begins a flashback scene. It also makes it hard to really form a connection with the characters other than Kelsie. Other than those snags, the change from past to present did add mystery and suspense to the story.
The storyline touches on deep topics such as losing family members, friends, drinking and cutting using a group of teens in the same wilderness therapy program as Kelsie. Kelsie’s character was forced into the program while her love interest, JC, voluntarily entered the program. The romance pops up between the two quickly and seems underdeveloped. The characters skip from a shaky friendship to love rather quickly and even then it doesn’t feel solid.
The second half of the book slows the story down considerably. There is no mystery, the suspense is minimal, and the story continues long after what I considered the climax of the book ended.
Overall, Breaking Free was a good read. I’d recommend for anyone who enjoys young/new adult contemporary romance, but be sure to notice the cautions that this book does hit on hard topics.