Monday, 7 July 2014

Review: Breaking Free

Breaking Free by S.M. Koz



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.

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.

My Thoughts:

Breaking Free was a surprisingly mysterious and intriguing book that followed the story of Kelsie, a seventeen-year-old who has just gotten out of a month of wilderness therapy. The story switches from the present, where Kelsie is home at home after being "rehabilitated", and flashbacks to her time at the camp.

Kelsie was a decent character who had some up and down moments. I wasn't completely fond of her, at times she was awfully bratty and a bit selfish, but she grew as me as the story panned out. It was interesting to learn about her condition - what led her to being put into the rehabilitation program - and the events that led up to her meltdown. I obviously adored JC. He had a wonderful spark to him and I love how he approached his situation with a reassuring smile and a positive attitude.

The program itself was interesting. I have heard of these sorts of wilderness therapies but never really know how they worked or what sort of patients were sent there etc. It was interesting to see how Chris Kris dealt with some of the more problematic campers and how the campers themselves bonded over time because of their similar additions and/or conditions.

What bought this book down for me was how awfully slow paced it was, and how dull the second half was. The switching between the present and past provided great suspense as we didn't quite know what was happening in the present sections and we had to wait to see what had happened at camp that caused all the mystery. It certainly kept you guessing and I was pleasantly surprised by a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming. The second half however was dull. The mystery was over by then and I wasn't on board the new angle it took.

The romance was also a little underdeveloped. I loved the relationship between the couple - it was rather sweet - but I found that it was too rushed for my liking, they went from "liking" each other to "loving" one another a bit too easily in my opinion.

Overall, I found Breaking Free to be a decent contemporary romance that could have done with a bit more development. For a debut it was rather well-written and I will certainly be picking up more of the author's future work.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of S.M. Koz, through the YA Buddy Readers' Corner, in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process.

 *Release: August 1st, 2014

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