Book Review: ‘Ten Tiny Breaths’ by K.A. Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker (Image Credit: K.A. Tucker)

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker (Image Credit: K.A. Tucker)

Every once in a while I’ll read a book that immediately grabs my attention and never really lets go. Much like opening a bag of gummi bears, I find it very hard to quit reading until I get to the end. Also much like a bag of gummi bears, said book probably isn’t the most nutritious thing I could be consuming. What I mean is, there are things about the book that bother me. Possibly even quite a bit. But it just tastes so good going down that I don’t even really care. In a very vague nutshell, that was my experience with Ten Tiny Breaths, and I’ll explain more in a bit.

First things first – a quick summary of what this book is all about. We meet up with 20-year-old Kacey and her 15-year-old sister, Livie, just after they have picked up and moved from Michigan to Miami. Kacey is not in a great state of mind. Several years prior, she was in a car accident that killed her parents, her boyfriend and her best friend. She basically sat and observed while all the people closest to her died, and she still hasn’t really mentally recovered. After the accident, Kacey and Livie were shipped off to live with their bible-thumping aunt and pervy uncle, and after said pervy uncle crosses a line with Livie, Kacey decides they need to get as far away from that situation as possible.

That’s how the girls end up in Miami, renting a somewhat shady apartment between a beautiful stripper with a heart of gold (and a cute toddler) on one side and a mysterious hot dude with eyes for Kacey on the other. Kacey, who has shut everyone but Livie out of her life for years, struggles to handle the kindness of her neighbors. Storm, the stripper, sees the best in Kacey right away and Trent, mysterious hot dude, seems willing to put up with her issues for a chance to win her over.  Can Kacey figure out how to get on with her life, start trusting again, and find a way to be happy? Maybe that question doesn’t sound like a page-turner, but trust me, it is.

Normally characters like Kacey frustrate me with their stubbornness. Maybe it’s insensitive of me, but regardless of a character’s traumatic life experiences I expect them to be somewhat open to trying to get over it. Kacey doesn’t really have the desire to get over it…she just wants to go to the gym and hit things (which I actually thought was kind of great; I loved that she could take care of herself). But despite that, Kacey did at least think about making an effort. Not necessarily an effort to deal with her past, but an effort to be more open in the future, and that’s something. That little slice of optimism really helped me stay on Kacey’s side when she did some pretty nutso things.

There were a lot of great side characters in this book; even the random ones that show up for a couple pages at a time are delightfully described. My favorite was Tanner, the Spider-Man pajama-wearing landlord at Kacey’s apartment complex. These little details gave a lot of life to characters that didn’t get a ton of face time. I also enjoyed Livie, who was always well-meaning but had a few surprises up her sleeve. I’m excited to see that there will be a follow-up to Ten Tiny Breaths called One Tiny Lie, which comes out in June and will focus on Livie.

Here’s where I got hung up: this whole book is built on how Kacey’s attitude changes as her relationship with Trent progresses. So, even though it is “explained” in a way later in the book, I was disappointed that the Kacey and Trent situation seemed like total instalove. They see each other in the laundry room. They think the other is hot. They say a couple short sentences. And that’s pretty much it. They’re obsessed with each other. I would have found it easier to invest in their relationship had I seen any indication that they had, say, a couple meaningful conversations that showed how well they connect or even just a few more laundry room encounters before Kacey started fantasizing endlessly about Trent.

The bizarre thing, though, is that even though I might have enjoyed the story even more had the relationship unfolded a bit more believably, I was still 100% hooked and willing to disregard any concerns I had because something about this book canceled out what could have been a huge negative and covered for it with some sort of magical crack-like writing style. The style reminded me a lot of Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster, another gummi bear book that I devoured despite feeling a little bit guilty about it the whole time.

And that’s the thing – there’s a place for this kind of a book. Ten Tiny Breaths is technically well-written, has substantial character development and depth, and deals with some pretty heavy topics quite well. It’s a little bit pandering, a little bit over-the-top titillating (we hear in great detail about how Trent is a perfect God about 723 times), but it balances out those little guilty pleasures with real emotional issues and the previously mentioned magical crack writing. This is a great compromise for readers who want nothing to do with something like 50 Shades of Grey, but can appreciate a bit more spiciness than, say, a Sarah Dessen novel. Ten Tiny Breaths is a quick, engaging story that I think will appeal to many readers. It’s not quite summer yet, but if you’re starting to think about beach reads, put this one on your list (and maybe pack some gummi bears too).

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Mallory Walker
I spend too much time reading and watching TV. Puppies, Diet Coke and the ’90s make me happy. I mean really, who doesn’t love the days of Marky Mark?
Check out more from Mallory Walker on TDQ…

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