One Last Breath

Putnam. Mar. 2024. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593625453.
Gr 10 Up–High school graduate Trulee has long been plagued by the senseless unsolved double murder her small Florida town is known for. Despite the crime happening before she was born, Tru feels an inexplicable connection to Bailey, one of the victims. As the 20th anniversary approaches, a mysterious girl, Rio, comes to town with a similar connection to the other murder victim, Celeste, and they can’t help but try to figure out what the police have not. The book is marketed as a supernatural thriller, but paranormal fans may want to skip this one unless the concept of reincarnation is appealing. The first half moves at a glacial pace, trudging through every tedious action of Tru’s days accompanied by her monotonous, repetitive inner monologue. Then the plot moves so quickly readers will feel they have whiplash. They will be guessing who the murderer is until the absolute end, and probably won’t see it coming. The romance subplot between Tru and Rio feels forced, especially because Tru has a long-term boyfriend. It’s difficult to relate to Tru or Rio because of their alluded reincarnation of Bailey and Celeste—it’s hard to discern which traits and emotions belong to which girls, and it feels like we don’t really scratch the surface of them. All the characters are white-presenting except for one side character. Contains cursing, underage drinking, and drug use.
VERDICT An OK read for those in the mood for some suspense—or those who can make it through the first half. Recommended for collections where Sain’s other works are well loved or where the thriller genre needs a boost.

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