Breathe My Name

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Breathe My Name Book Poster Image
Teen copes after sisters die at mom's hand.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

There are some true horrors in this book, however there is also forgiveness, positive coping, and recovery. We see teens who have great capacities for communication who still make stupid mistakes. Those mistakes are handled by very present adults in an appropriate manner.


A mother kills three of her daughters and attempts to kill a fourth; we see how the bodies of the dead children looked. A girl is almost choked to death and a man is killed when he is hit in the head. The blood and how his bludgeoned head looked is described.


Sex is discussed, often jokingly, in typical adolescent ways. A teen girl and boy are involved in heavy petting and bed sharing at a motel. Teens talk about a book where the characters "diddle" each other.


Mild swearing, including "s--t." Usually used in reaction to a difficult situation.


Most product placements are used in the description of a scene, including Saturday Night Live, CNN, XBox, VW Bug, Hundai, Google, and Walmart.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a book you may want to read before your kids do. A mother kills three of her children and attempts to kill a fourth. Parents should also be aware there are instances of serious mental illness, sexual situations, some product placement, and issues of adoption, forgiveness, coping, and trust in this very heavy, often disturbing book.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byalibaba1 August 9, 2011

frightening because the monsters are real

My teen recommended this book, and I read it in about 3 hours. I could not put it down, it was very, very compelling. Of course, after reading it, and knowing... Continue reading
Adult Written bychristian_carmela February 20, 2009

You Have To READ THIS!!

It was an amazing book. Kind of hard to follow at first but stick with it. You will not be disappointed.
Teen, 17 years old Written byjackiebrookee February 14, 2010

good for 15 and up but too involved for anyone younger

I actually really enjoyed this book because the story was incrediable. the main character goes through so much it just breaks your heart reading it.
Teen, 16 years old Written bytheycallmedezzy January 20, 2010

It's good for mature teens

I loved it when I read it, I actually named it one of my favorite books.

What's the story?

Frances' story could have been ripped from the headlines: \"Mother Kills Her Three Children, Attempts to Kill Fourth.\" This novel picks up after the incident -- Frances copes with her grief and anger while she tries to live a normal life. When she's paired up in chemistry class with an unusual new student, Nix, Frances struggles with trusting their friendship with her biggest secret. How can she open up when she still worries about her mother finding her again?

Is it any good?

BREATHE MY NAME is an intense novel that's hard to put down. The reader is forced to relieve the most horrific moments in Frances' childhood. If they can cope well with the startling subject matter, they will enjoy this nicely paced, contemporary story.

R.A. Nelson walks the audience through Frances' emotional journey with grace, conveying horror without sensationalism. Teens will see themselves in Frances as she struggles with things outside of her control, like her past, while navigating through the trials of the average teen experience. The tone is increasingly hopeful except for one jarring moment in the final plot twist that feels more like a made-for-TV movie incident. That aside, this will entrance the right mature reader who likes books on tough teen topics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how important trust is in a friendship. Do you have a friend who you can trust with your own issues and pain? Have you ever had a friend place their trust in you?Families can also talk about the media's role in sensationalizing the news and empathizing with those who are featured in news stories.

Book details

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