The Last Breath was what I have now dubbed an intense family drama. Gia’s father, Ray, was convicted of murdering Gia’s step-mother, and she believed him guilty of the crime. When Ray was released from prison so that he could die on house arrest, Gia abandoned her nomadic lifestyle as a human aid worker to help him through the process. Upon her return to the small town and home where the murder took place, Gia suddenly began to examine whether or not her father was truly guilty. There were multiple plots here. First, Gia had to make amends with herself for never visiting her father in prison and believing he was guilty when others were so certain of his innocence. Despite new facts about the murder and characters who raised questions about Ray’s motive and alibi, this was not what I would call a mystery. Very little of the novel was spent on investigating Ray’s innocence. Instead, his conviction was a platform for Gia to focus on herself and the areas in her life that were lacking.
One such aspect was Gia’s relationship with her siblings. In the beginning of the story, her brother and sister barely spoke to her and seemed to resent her career choice that kept her away from the town where rumors about her family continued to swirl. But through conversations about their father’s verdict, they were forced to address their treatment of each other. Another aspect of the novel was Gia’s relationship with bar owner Jake. Their trysts were something out of a romance novel, and proved to Gia that part of the reason she selected her career was her need to avoid relationships, a tragic result of the murder of her step-mother.
In a way this was a coming of age story of Gia. It read a little like a chick lit story, a little like a legal thriller, and a little like a corny Romance. Somehow all those pieces came together to make a solid novel with a protagonist at the center who was damaged and needed rescuing. Through caring for her father in his last days, Gia was forced to face everything that needed to be resolved in her own life.
I thought this was a great novel in all respects: Fantastic writing that had a good pace and a good voice for the characters. A solid plot with enough action to make this drama move quickly. I would definitely read more by this author.