A Breath of Eyre (Unbound #1) — Eve Marie Mont

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Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…

Emma Townsend loves reading and the latest book to capture her attention is Jane Eyre. Emma feels a strong connection to Jane — so strong that one fateful night, when she’s struck by lightening, she’s transported right into Jane’s body. Navigating between two realities, Emma has to decide between her quiet life as Jane (where she has the decidedly sexy Mr. Rochester) or her own life, where things aren’t so quiet or picture-perfect; where girls are mean and vindictive; where her mom is dead and her dad doesn’t trust her; where boys like Gray Newman overlook girls like Emma.

Like any book-lover, Emma loves books so much that she literally wishes she could fall into their fictional worlds. I like how relatable this aspect of Emma’s personality this is. Then she gets to do what all of us wish we could, at some point, do — she gets to live the life of  a book character. And you think that’d be awesome, right? But it actually raises a lot of interesting questions and thoughts. While I always thought about how fun it would be to be a book character for a day, I never considered why it might not be fun. And Emma isn’t Jane for just a day, but for three months. I think Mont did a great job balancing these two realities. We spend enough time in both that we really understand Emma’s frustrations with both realities and we empathize with her struggles. But making a definitive choice makes her stronger; she learns so much about herself and she’s a great character to root for.

Mont’s prose is beautiful. She seamlessly transitions between both realities, authentically capturing the tone of Jane Eyre while also creating a real world with likable, believable characters. Some aspects of boarding school life are cliche, but it’s hard not to be. But the romantic tension is anything but cliche. The relationship between Emma and her English teacher, aka her real-life Mr. Rochester, is as believable as any high school crush and the outcome of this crush is not easily predictable. The same is true for Emma’s relationship with Gray, the boy she’s known her entire life yet who still manages to have a plethora of secrets. Mont takes her time with these relationships, allowing us and Emma to fully get to know these characters. Absolutely nothing is rushed and no one does anything without a reason. These characters are very, very human and thus incredibly easy to care about.

A Breath of Eyre explores some powerful themes, the most engaging of which, for me, is the difference between right and wrong. Throughout the book, Emma really learns to trust herself and follows her own moral compass, despite the fact that even the authority figures in her life won’t do the same. Emma comes into her own in A Breath of Eyre, discovers her own identity, and joining her for this journey is a true pleasure. I look forward to reading about Emma’s next adventure.

Pages: 342
Publication Date: March 2012
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Source: Provided by Publisher
Rating [rating: 4]

Teaser Quote: “I was speechless. Michelle was the most courageous person I’d ever met. I envied her ability to stand there and take the consequences for a poem I had written.”