Storytime with Sophie: A Breath Too Late


Logan Cogley

A Breath Too late is a powerful, emotional novel that grapples with teenager sucide and its effects. This tear-jerker novel can greatly impact readers.

In correspondence with Suicide Awareness week, the novel, A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen is a powerful reminder about the effects of suicide. The novel follows the story of teenage girl Ellie Walker, and the events leading up and following her suicide.

It is important to note that any potential readers of this book must be very cautious with the content involved. Many dark and heavy themes are discussed, such as suicide, verbal and physical abuse, and depression. Readers must be prepared for parts that are uncomfortable and difficult to get through. 

In the beginning of the book, Ellie does not realize she is dead and continues through her day as if she is alive, wondering what had caused the overall somber mood. Once in school, she finds out a student passed away and comes to the realization that the student is herself.

As she looms over her past life, the reader learns more about Ellie’s past, and the struggles she suffered daily. Ellie follows her mother and her best friend August, seeing them suffer from her death unable to provide comfort. 

The book is written uniquely and interestingly. Each chapter is formatted as if Ellie is writing a letter to different members of her life. Some chapters are written to her mother (“momma”), father, and August. In these chapters, she repeatedly addresses the recipient of the letter as “you”, which can sometimes be difficult to comprehend if the reader does not remember who “you” is. 

The letter format is an engaging way to read this story and leaves readers wondering who will receive the next letter. Sometimes the letters discuss what Ellie is currently watching happen in her life, shadowing her mother or best friend. However, some letters/ chapters also share specific memories from Ellie’s past that she previously had forgotten. 

Some letters are addressed to inanimate entities, such as memory, words, and depression. These chapters also give depth into Ellie’s character. Ellie is a very raw, and understandable character, being a 16- year-old high school grappling with mental health issues. Readers can relate to Ellies sometimes immature actions, and her guilt over not forgiving those in her life. 

Thematic topics of abuse are heavily represented. Ellie’s father abuses Ellie and her mothers, and these scenes are explored in great detail. The novel is blunt with its representation of abuse and doesn’t show a romanticized view of abuse and its effects. 

Those who may struggle with suicidal thoughts may find the topics of the novel upsetting, however, the overall message of how suicide affects others is an important reminder. The novel is raw with its portrayal of how Ellie’s suicide destroys her mother and best friend, and that they are deeply affected. Both parties blame themselves, and Ellie sees first-hand how her death impacted them. 

In honor of suicide prevention week, this novel is a tactful, and moving exploration into the less talked about aspect of suicide- what comes next. Ellie has to go through various memories and stages of her life before she can reach tranquility. While this is a very inspiring novel, potential readers should be cautious and aware of the depths of the novel’s content. Those who are suffering from thoughts of suicide should call 800-273-8255.