Book Review: Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp

Breathing Ghosts - Laekan Zea Kemp

A copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Breathing Ghosts tells the story of River: a young boy who has lost the love of his life, Nia. Nia always wanted to travel across America, and see weird and crazy things. So River decides to do the road trip he was always to afraid to agree on. But without Nia.

Breathing Ghosts is centred around River and Nia’s relationship, but also River’s journey across America. To be completely honest, I wasn’t that big a fan of River. I thought he was selfish, for numerous reasons - many which involved his two tagalongs on his road trip, Carter and June. The way he treated those two most of the time was at best civil. And the way he viewed his and Nia’s relationship was so vainglorious. He even mentions that he could never give June what she wanted because he could never love anyone as much as Nia.

Okay. I understand how wonderful people can be. And Nia was pretty great. But she wasn’t God. She wasn’t some perfect human being that no one could ever begin to be like. How could River know if he could give June what she wanted (as if he knew what she wanted anyway) if he wasn’t even willing to see her at all? River was so blinded by his obsessive love for Nia that he revered her in a way that was completely unhealthy.

I liked Carter and June more than I liked River. I think these two characters had so much more, well, character, than River. They were stronger; they were more open to possibilities. They were simply more.

River was so self consumed with his own pain that he was refusing to see the world beyond what he had with Nia. He was so self-absorbed in what he was feeling, it was as if no one else could even begin to understand what pain was like. I couldn’t stand this, to be honest. His sense of self importance was almost overbearing. June and Carter both knew what pain felt like (as most people alive do), and River’s almost blatant dismissal of anyone’s pain and hardships except his own was so incredibly egotistical. He was so blind to the world around him, and I felt like shaking him out of his depressed stupor. He needed to open his eyes and realise that life DOES go on; no matter how hard it may be. People die, and you live. It’s hard, but you have to deal with it, otherwise you might as well have died along with them.

I loved the places that the three of them visited, and the truly wacky and crazy things they did, and people they met. Even though they were kind of unrealistic, I didn’t really find myself thinking that. I enjoyed reading of these things, and imagining someone having a road-trip as fantastic as the one River, Carter and June took part in.

The ending of Breathing Ghosts was left extremely open. I, for one, am not a fan of open endings. I don’t like investing my time in learning of and engaging with characters only to have no idea how their life turns out. Does River ever pull himself out of his depressed stupor? Does he realise that he needs to move on, and that maybe his relationship with Nia wasn’t as supreme as he thought it was? I would have liked to know what happened to all the characters in this book. I would have liked some kind of closure to their pain.

© 2014, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.

Your Turn: What are your feelings on open endings? Do you want everything to be tied up, or are you okay with making it up for yourself?