Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

Every Breath

every breathOVERALL: 4.5 4.5 Stars

Concept:4 Stars
Characters:4 Stars
Plot:4 Stars
Writing:5 Stars


Ellie Marney
Abrams Books


Description: Rachel Watts is a country girl whose family is forced to leave their farm and move to the city. James Mycroft is a troubled teen with a passion for forensics and Rachel’s neighbour. Together they stumble upon a murder that Mycroft in particular feels compelled to solve. Together they embark on a twisty, gritty investigation that leads to a cold blooded murderers den. On the upside, spending so much time together could have unexpected consequences…

This book was one of only two Australian books to make the top ten list of YA books borrowed from Australian libraries. Since then Ellie Marney, the author, has put her support behind a #LoveOzYA campaign which has seen a flurry of activity to encourage Aussie kids to read more home grown literature.

Concept: The concept behind this book is strong – a teen thriller set in urban Melbourne. Country girl, city boy. Lead character named after Sherlock Holmes’ brother. You can immediately see where this book is going and it certainly gets there. Thrillers have long been an amazingly popular genre for adults and its great to see a realistic, (no fantasy) teen thriller set in Melbourne.

Characters: I really loved Rachel. Yes, I’m sure the aim is for females to all swoon over Mycroft, but he was a bit too damaged for me…for a teen girl who still thinks she can ‘fix’ a guy however, he is alluring and perfect. But Ellie Marney does a great job of filling Rachel out making her real and relatable.This book is really all about the characters, yes, its about solving a murder too, but this is secondary to the relationship unfolding between Rachel and Mycroft.

Plot: In a thriller/crime book the plot is really important. If you don’t have a good plot that makes sense and ties up nicely the book falls rather flat. This is not one of the books. The plot is solid and mostly believable and the only loose ends left were ones that are tantalising rather than vital.

Writing: I really enjoy the way Ellie Marney writes even though sometimes her Australian colloquialisms made me cringe, more because they were accurate rather than because they were forced or inappropriate. The book is easy to read and rollicks along. Marney writes in a way that is accessible and relatable for teens and so it’s easy to see why this book has been so popular.

PARENTS: This is a book your teen should enjoy, boy or girl. It paints a realistic portrait of an inner city teens life and the issues that they may face. I like it because it touches on some very real issues but doesn’t do it in a vulgar, in your face kind of way, but rather a thoughtful, realistic way. The issues in this book are: being forced off the land, financial struggles, dysfunctional relationships, murder, the different values society places on different people, sociopaths, damaged teens, coming of age, romance. There is also alcohol and drinking.

Things to ask and discuss:

1) Do you think that the police valued the death of Dave as much as they valued other deaths? Why? Do you think this is reasonable?

2) Mycroft is obviously still dealing with the death of his parents and shows destructive tendencies. Given this, is Rachel doing the right thing by falling for him?

3) There are a number of dysfunctional relationships in the book, Mycroft and his aunt, Rosemarina and her Dad. Talk about what makes a relationship dysfunctional and whether you can actually fix those relationships or just manage them.

4) Rachel feels very displaced at the start of the book. She pines for the family farm and doesn’t feel like she belongs in the city. Over time that changes, what do you think the turning point is for her?

Come on comment, you know you wanna.

Book Reviews and Writer