Goodreads Summary: Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…
Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…
When I first read the summary for Breath of Eyre, I was expecting some literary time travel, sweeping romance and honestly, a light, fun YA fantasy novel. Breath of Eyre is a well written, unique story that instead tackles some heavy issues that took me by surprise.
Emma has a poor relationship with her father and stepmother. She attends a prestigious boarding school where the scholarship students (including Emma) are bullied by the rich girls. Emma’s new roommate (another scholarship student) has a major chip on her shoulder and the boy Emma likes just so happens to date the meanest of the mean rich girls. Needless to say, things in Emma’s life are not all that great.
Emma is a very sympathetic character. She is smart but has a lot of real issues in her life and she is trying to sort them all out. In Breath of Eyre, relationships are very complicated. At home, Emma wants to have a close relationship with her father and be able to talk to him about what’s going on in her life, but she doesn’t know how. At school, Emma tries to blend into the background and not attract the attention of the mean girls. I’m a character driven reader and am happy that the characters are well written and complex.
What surprised me the most about Breath of Eyre is that the book is more of a contemporary story than a paranormal one. Most of the story is told in the present with short sections being set within the Jane Eyre novel. The story deals heavily with themes of loss, grief, depression, mental illness, suicide, classism and discrimination: weighty issues that I did not see coming.
If you like contemporary YA novels or issues books, Breath of Eyre is definitely for you. The issues are handled well and the book has a satisfying ending but still leaves you looking forward to the second book in the series, A Touch of Scarlet which comes out in April of next year.
Content: Kissing, profanity, attempted suicide, underage drinking and drug use.
My Rating: Just Fine