This Christian suspense novel is the second book in "The Rayne Tour" series by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins and is published by Zondervan.
Last Breath is written for kids ages 13 to 18. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
16-year-old Shaley O'Conner wants to leave her chaotic daughter-of-a-rock-star life and to return to her home in Southern California. Unfortunately, the murders of two friends and arrest of another have kept her in Denver, along with her mother, Rayne. When a swarm of paparazzi push Rayne into the path of an oncoming car, she stays in a Denver hospital to recover. Shaley remains with her mother and learns the real story about her father, Gary Donovan. Rayne and Gary fell passionately in love in French class. Twice a month, he even sent Rayne a white rose as a declaration of his love. Before long, Rayne found he was involved with a dangerous California gang called Westrock — assisting in drug runs and a slew of other illegal activities because the gang threatened his grandmother, who raised him. Eventually, Gary burned down his grandmother's house and fled the state with his grandmother, but by that time, Rayne was pregnant.
Shaley tells her mother about the white rose with the mysterious message she received only days before. They enlist the help of the police and discover Gary has been released from prison where he served a sentence for armed robbery. They also learn that his cellmate was none other than Jerry Brand, the man who was originally sent to protect Shaley and ended up murdering two of her closest friends. Living under the alias Franklin Borden, they find that Gary has purchased a plane ticket and is on his way to Denver. They are startled at the news and beef up the patrols around Rayne's room. Gary remembers Shaley's cell phone number from a conversation with Jerry, and he calls her from an empty hospital room. After Shaley realizes where he is, she informs police. A standoff ensues, but Shaley intervenes on his behalf after he persuades her that his intentions are honorable. Gary and Rayne are reunited in the hospital room, and Shaley is glad to have finally met her father.
Shaley and Rayne are not believers, but Shaley's encounter with death has left her reeling. She repeatedly pleads with God for help and clings to the words spoken to her by Carly Sanders, a back-up singer who is a Christian: "Remember. God is always watching." Shaley also demonstrates the power of forgiveness when she encounters her father for the first time and gives him the chance to redeem his past mistakes.
Rayne takes a brave stand when she defends her daughter from the paparazzi, nearly losing her life in the process. As a result, Shaley has a renewed respect for her mother. Though young Gary's parents are deceased, his grandmother raises him. He honors and protects her. When Shaley finally meets Gary, he turns out not to be a criminal, but a broken man who wants only forgiveness and a fresh start.
There is mention of cursing, but profane language is not used. In the third chapter, Rayne is hit by a car and is severely injured. As a teenager, Gary is inadvertently involved with a violent gang; the events come to fruition after a drug drop ends in a shootout between rival gang members. After failing to complete the task, Gary is beaten severely. On the same night, Rayne receives phone calls threatening her life. Gary burns down his grandmother's house in the middle of the night, but only as a last attempt to save those whom he loves. In the hospital, the police confront Gary. They use guns and physical tactics to subdue him.
Gary and Rayne share a kiss after their first date. It is inferred that they sleep together because 17-year-old Rayne becomes pregnant.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
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