Monday, January 27, 2014

Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard

"Ryan wasn't looking for true love. He only wanted a reason to live."

Ryan's parents have been a bit overprotective since he got out of Patterson Hospital a few months earlier. All summer, he has escaped by standing under a waterfall where a guy had supposedly drowned. When the rains came in August, the waterfall and creek swelled to the point where even Ryan wasn't crazy enough to risk standing underneath. While sitting on the bank one day, the younger sister of a fellow classmate, Kent Thornton, strikes up a conversation. Ryan cannot remember her name. She likes to go under the falls and wants to know if Ryan wants to join her. He passes and is nervous the whole time he is unable to see her. He is relived when she comes out. He notices that she is shivering from the cold water. She didn't think to bring a towel and Ryan offers to take her to get one. They hike ten minutes through the woods to his house. He gets her a couple of towels and she has always admired the house from the outside and asks to look around. He takes her through the rooms including his bedroom. Ryan is nervous and doesn't want to introduce a girl who name he doesn't know to his mother. Ending up in the basement, she notices the home gym and asks Ryan if he uses it. He replies yes until he had mono in the spring. She says that she heard that he was in the hospital. He tells her that he was but for a different reason. She looks at him and he wonders if she will have the nerve to ask why. She breaks eye contact and doesn't. They go back upstairs and she tells him that the rumors about the waterfall are true. She was there the day that her brother's friend slipped and drowns. He was just eight. She thanks him for everything and leaves. Ryan still doesn't know her name.

The next morning, Ryan goes down to the falls and sees Kent smoking a joint. He says that he heard that Ryan ran into Nicki. Kent says that she is a nut and has been screwed up since their father died. Before he leaves, Kent warns Ryan to be careful with his sister. He also says that Ryan is crazy if he stands under the falls. Ryan goes under the falls and when he comes back out, Kent is gone. He rests on the bank and then Nicki comes up behind him. She finally asks the question that Ryan has been waiting for. He asks her if she is suicidal but she claims she's not. He punches his number into her cell phone in case she needs help. She also asks for his email address. There is something she wants to say to him but she cannot do it to his face. When checking his email earlier for messages from the two friends that he made while hospitalized at Patterson, Val and Jake, he is ready to log off when he sees a message from Nicki. She wants to know why he tried to kill himself. She has no one else to ask since nobody will talk to her about her father's suicide. He tells her that he doesn't want to talk about the worst day of his life. She writes "please".

The next day he finally hears from Val. They catch up on each other's lives and she asks about a girlfriend. Ryan harbors a secret crush on Val but he does tell her about Nicki and the question she asked him. Val tells him that maybe she just needs a friend. He goes to stand under the waterfall and when he gets out of the water, Nicki is standing there. He tells her that he is sorry about her father and she apologizes for her email. She then tells Ryan that she has made an appointment with a psychic to get the answers she needs. He tries to talk her out of it and wants to know if someone is going with her. When she says no, Ryan, who just met her a week ago, agrees to go with her.

Kent drops the two if them off and they walk to the psychic's house. Ryan sees right off what a fake she is when she cannot give Nicki any definite answers. He makes the rash decision to pepper the psychic with questions to ask Nicki's father that hit a little too close to home. They leave when Nicki doesn't get what she is looking for. She berates Ryan for what he did and asks if he is happy that he was right about the psychic being a fake. Then she asks him if he left a note and that she knows that all of the questions he asked were really about him. Ryan knows that Nicki's father didn't do the same things that he had done or kept the secrets that he keeps.

Why did Ryan try to kill himself? What secrets is he still keeping? Will Nicki ever find out why her father killed himself? What happens when the two of them keep hanging out, are they just friends or are they falling in love with one another? Can the two of them help each other move forward in their own lives?

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