Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Every Breath

Every Breath

Ellie Marney
For ages 14 and up
Tundra, 2014   ISBN: 978-1770497726

Four months ago Rachel Watts was living on a farm with her family, and though the work was hard she loved her life. Then the bank foreclosed on the farm and they had to leave their country life behind. Now they live in a ramshackle rented house on a ramshackle street in Melbourne and Rachel hates it. She misses the sky and the space and there is nothing about her new life that works for her except her new friends. There is Mia and her boyfriend, Gus, and then there is Mycroft.

   Mycroft lives a few doors down and he is tall, thin, brilliant, socially awkward, and a chain smoker. On occasion he drinks far too much and becomes very unpredictable. He is also haunted by the loss of her parents, who were killed in a car accident when Mycroft was only ten. His life since the death of his parents has been pretty grim, and now he lives with an aunt who really does not seem to care about him at all. For some reason Rachel (or Watts as Mycroft calls her) is drawn to the withdrawn English boy, who is fascinated by all things scientific and who rather fancies himself as a modern day Sherlock Holmes.

   Though Mycroft is often strange, he has lots of friends around the city, one of whom is Dave the homeless guy.  Dave hangs out with his dog near Melbourne Zoo and when he can, Mycroft takes Dave tea and food. One evening Mycroft and Rachel head over to see Dave and when they get there they find that their friend has been murdered. The teens are horrified, but Mycroft still manages to go into investigation mode. He pays attention to what he sees, takes photos, and then they call the police.

   Though Rachel is not in favor of getting involved, she and Mycroft start trying to understand what happened to Dave. They talk to the police and even view the body, and they are able determine that Dave was already dead when his throat was cut. Rachel figures out that Dave used to visit the nearby mental hospital and she meets someone there who used to know the homeless man. Slowly but surely she and Mycroft start to piece together who Dave was and a picture of his killer starts to form. Unfortunately, their common cause does not stop Rachel and Mycroft from having a falling out, which in turn results in Mycroft going on a drinking bender. It would appear that Mycroft’s painful past is still part of his present, and Rachel has no idea how to help the young man she cares so much about get past his appalling loss and move forward.

   This debut young adult novel is gritty, often raw, and painfully honest. Readers will get caught up in Rachel and Mycroft’s lives, and they will find it impossible not to worry that these two young people have bitten off much more than they can chew. After all, there is a killer out there.