This was a compelling young adult novel. I was attracted to this book because of the title and when I read the cover blurb I was intrigued. We first meet a girl called Shine and her sisters Tan and Ninny. They live in a place called Fireless with their mother, the queen. While on the surface this seems like a sweet recollection of a childhood memory there is an unsettling feeling to it when she recalls that her mother is good at scaring things. The focus shifts forward eleven years to the same girl only now her name is Frances and she isn't quite sure why she is scared. The author does a wonderful job of evoking the sensation of fear. As the story unfolds we find out that Frances is adopted and her parents are very protective. She is eighteen but is only a junior in high school. She feels out of place and has only one close friend, Ann Mirette. Then she meets Nix, a new student at her school and a senior. As Nix and Frances grow closer she knows she must tell him about her past before someone else does. Interspersed with the here and now are the memories of her time in Fireless. The tension builds as you see the mother lose her grip on reality even though you know what eventually happens. The story really starts to move when a lawyer approaches Frances with a letter from her mother. The journey that follows takes us through the past on her way to confront her mother for the first time.
I was truly impressed with this book. You immediately connect with Frances. My heart soared when Nix asked her out. I don't want to give too much away but the ending completely surprised me. I don't often get caught unaware but it came out of nowhere. The prose is simplistic but powerful. It was so easy to step into the story and get lost. I read this book while my daughter was hospitalized and it kept my attention and gave me an escape when I needed it most. I will be looking forward to more from this author. I haven't been so caught up in a new author's work like this since I read The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. If you like Ms. Dessen, I urge you to go out and get Breathe My Name.
I need to see you. Please come right away. We have to finish. Frances Robinson is in high school now. She lives a quiet, suburban life, far from her horrifying past. When she was a child, her birthmother smothered her three sisters. Through pure luck, Frances survived. Now her mother has just been released from prison . . . and she wants to see Frances. A new boy at school called Nix charms Frances. Together, Nix and Frances embark on a clandestine journey to visit Frances' mother: to confront the monster in its lair. This trip will help Frances at last find peace-or die trying. But no matter what, Frances will discover just what it means to finish. Biography R.A. Nelson is the author of Teach Me, called "worthy of acclaim" (Kirkus Reviews), "exhilarating and terrifying" (Horn Book Newcomer's Pick), and a "standout debut. . . not to be missed" (VOYA). His work in support of the space program earned one of NASA's highest honors, the Silver Snoopy Award.