When I first read the description for A BREATH TOO LATE by Rocky Callen, I knew it was one of those books that I would feel in my soul.
I wasn't wrong.
The book is about a seventeen year old girl named Ellie who, after dying by suicide, finds herself stuck. Stuck in memories, stuck in depression, and stuck in the aftermath of a world where she no longer lives and is forced to watch the people around her process their grief. I've lost people to this disease. It's a subject that always hits home, but this one felt special.
The cover of this book is so haunting and lovely. The beautiful pinks and purples, the starry details, and the face that disappears to make place for stars. The book itself, written in an epistolary format features letters written from Ellie to everyone in her life from her mother, to her lifelong friend August, Depression, and even Death. It follows not only Ellie watching her loved ones grieve, but also dives into her memories as she pieces together the every moment that brought her there.
The subject of the story might be heart breaking, but Callen's prose truly stand out. This is a book full of highlight-worthy lines. I found myself stopping to reread entire letters because of the way they hit me. I cried and cried for Ellie's mother. For Ellie. For what could have been.
I used two colors in the frosting to represent the melding of life and death in this book. The juxtaposition of memory and aftermath. This technique was fairly simple. I placed two separate colors into a single piping bag so they came out in equal measure. Note, I added an edible shimmer to the cupcakes for one single reason. You'd think a book like this would end on a note that felt hopeless. A girl lost her life. There is no coming back from that and you learn this on page one. But this book didn't feel hopeless in the end. It felt like a lifeline hug. A promise.
A BREATH TOO LATE comes out April 28th, 2020 - you can add it to your Goodreads here.