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Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry — Book Review & Summary


Cover for Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

GENRE: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

STARS: 4 Stars


CONVINCING YOU TO READ THIS IN 6 WORDS: Childhood best friends turned strangers, age-old curses, good                                                                                          bad boy, emotional, realistic characters & friends to lovers

CONTENT WARNINGS: Domestic abuse


Only a Breath Apart begins with a snapshot of the life of Jesse and Scarlett. Jesse, just 6 years when his mother tells him about the family curse. The curse that according to people was when you love someone but his mother firmly believed it was when you tried to leave the family land. She hastily in tears asks Jesse to promise to always stay on the land. To always stay so that the land can offer him protection.

While 7-year-old Scarlett was struggling after hearing a conversation between her mother and grandmother. She was trying to come to terms with the fact that his father had yelled at her mother last night and that she was crying. The 7-year-old wanted to meet Jesse, go on his farm but her tangled thoughts were still upon her father yelling, her mother crying and her grandmother trying to tell her mother not to upset her father.

Scarlett was just 7 years old when Glory told her that the land loved her. She was still trying to speak her Ls properly when her father apologized to her mother and she thought that everything was going to be okay.

Years passed, between which the inseparable Jesse and Scarlett stopped talking and became strangers. But when Jesse’s grandmother died, everything began to change. Jesse inherited the land but under special provisions. He had to get the approval of 3 people. While Jesse changed a lot from the 6-year-old boy we meet who cried for the blanket made for him by his grandmother to someone who almost everyone counted as a bad boy.

Scarlett slowly made progress with her speech and found it easier to form her words but found herself trapped in a world, she made for herself. The title of ‘ice-queen helped her to protect herself from others. But Scarlett, despite her portrayal somehow knew what was happening at her home was not correct. But she could think about doing something about it.

The funeral for Jesse’s grandmother was an event that changed or rather started the movement for their changes. Despite, not having talked for years, when the two of them started talking, it was like picking up from where they left. They bridged the gap between them slowly. Meeting each other during nights, they both talked. Sometimes about everything and at times about nothing. They talked about their dreams, about their problems, about the curse, about the abuse. They slowly helped each other, supported each other as they tried to solve their problems.

But will everything go as they dreamed of or as they hoped? Will Scarlett’s life be the same when her father comes to know about Jesse? Will the council decide that Jesse was fit to inherit the land?

“As if you’re a shadow on the wall attached to the horror. Your pain is the ghost of the smack you witnessed, but it’s still pain. Just a different type of pain. Your body may not be cut or bruised, but your soul is ripped apart all the same.”


I don’t know from where to begin. Only A Breath Apart is like a breath of fresh air in YA. Katie McGarry doesn’t shield from writing about topics that stir your heartstrings. This is my first McGarry book and what a start it was. I have to admit I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much I did. I was engrossed in the little world that belonged to the two of them. While there were moments when I felt drifting apart, this beautiful book more than made it up for it.

“Are you in love with her?”…
“I think I was born in love with her.”

Let’s start with one of the best parts of Only a Breath Apart. I don’t read romance novels too much. Fantasy is my go-to genre…but I am definitely inclined to change it. I loved how their romance bloomed. How they were inseparable first but then there was nothing. And then slowly, they were coming back towards each other. It was like witnessing a flower bloom. I loved seeing them explore and come towards each other.

I loved seeing how McGarry took sensitive topics and molded them into a story that tugged my heartstrings. How both of them had their problems, the issues that somehow unknowingly they were running from and yet somehow they knew that they had to face the problem. I loved how the others played the part in helping them face their problems. It was the support that you want to see in YA. People fighting their own battles and the other supporting them, being with them. As I said before, it was refreshing.!

“You’ve been asleep for a very long time,” she whispers. “It’s time to wake up, Scarlett. There’s a whole world of possibility waiting for you.”

I have to admit, I did like how much Scarlett grew and changed throughout. From admitting that what was happening around was not healthy to slowly trying to change herself, to trying to stand up for herself and her family. She won my heart. And the best part? I loved how much she grew from trying to frame a proper sentence to let her father know that he was not welcome to be a part of her life. That growth. That realistic growth from being scared to realising that if she didn’t try, she would not be able to live her life. Way to go..! Yaya for Scarlett.

“You walking away hurt me! That name hurt me! You were supposed to be my best friend and friends don’t do what you did to me!”
“We can rehash this as much as you want, but it won’t change what I did or why. I made a mistake. You either forgive me or you don’t, but I’m telling you I’m sorry, and if I could take it back, I would.”
She draws in several deep breaths, and after the longest silence of my life, she meets my eyes again. “Do you regret it?”
“Every. Damn. Day.”

I am someone who is on the constant lookout for some amazing side characters and Jesse’s friends and Glory made a little part of me sing. I was so intrigued by Glory and would have loved to see more about her.

“Sometimes, there aren’t words and that’s okay.”

I don’t think I mentioned how much I loved the smooth writing. There are some writers whose writing is lyrical, whose writing makes you sing and blend with each word. Katie McGarry is one of them. There are so many points where I stopped and marked because the writing was so beautiful.

So, overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like a good romance read. And even if you are not a romance reader, do give this book a try, it may be a little slow but it is definitely worth it.

“Do you want me to walk you home?” he asks.
“Do you want me to go home?”
“Scarlett, there are two times that I can breathe in deeply without wincing in pain, and being with you is one of them. If I could, I’d keep you here forever.”

This review was written years ago, my writing style has changed since then.


They say your destiny is carved in stone. But some destinies are meant to be broken.

The only curse Jesse Lachlin believes in is his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm, he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year.

A fortuneteller tells Scarlett she’s psychic, but what is real is Scarlett’s father’s controlling attitude and the dark secrets at home. She may be able to escape, but only if she can rely on the one boy who broke her heart.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings, but as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

Similar book: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.

You can buy Only A Breath Apart here.

And you can read other reviews by me for They Both Die at the end here.

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