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Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things (Sara Barnard)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Pages: 400

Release Date: February 11th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

Review:

I hesitated before requesting this on NetGalley as I was worried it wasn’t my type of thing, but I’m really glad I did!

I worry with these kinds of contemporary stories that they won’t hold my interest – I’ve always been more into fantasy, plus I worry I’m too old for these kinds of friendship/coming of age stories. Just goes to show I should ignore myself more often as I really enjoyed this.

I didn’t connect too well with Caddy at the start, I think probably because we’re such opposites, even when I was that age. I’d had plenty of her ‘Significant Life Events’ by that age and, like most people who’ve had them, I couldn’t understand her craving for them. So what if you feel your life is a little boring/you don’t have any stories to tell? Mine weren’t really stories you could tell in general conversation anyway. But I guess I can understand the worry of appearing boring to everyone else.

The friendships in the story were really wonderful and I loved that the focus was on the friendship of these three girls rather than focussing on boyfriends and love. Sure, there’s a bit of boy talk, but it’s not the centre of the story, and I feel we need more of that in YA. Not everything when you’re young is about falling in love and finding the ‘right’ guy – I know who I was dating when I was 16 and it definitely wasn’t anywhere near Mr. Right!

The subject matter is handled really sensitively, though I won’t mention it to much here, so I don’t ruin any of the ‘reveal’. I just want to say that its a topic that should be explored in YA more and I love the angle that Barnard went for: it looks at what happens after the ever after, when a tragic event is over but the effects are still lingering. It also does this from a different point of view, not from the victim but from a new friend, which just shows how these things spread and don’t just affect those directly involved.

Caddy’s evolving relationship with Suzanne felt unstoppable. It started tense and gradual but it began to feel like it was spiralling out of control. If you’ve ever experienced a friendship that was so good for you and so bad for you at the same time then you’ll understand this book completely. Caddy relies on it and knows she is right about it, no matter what her parents or best friend says, but as a reader you can see it’s slowly sucking her in and dragging her down too.

Around half way through I began wondering where the book was going to go: while I was enjoying the ride, I just couldn’t see what it was building to. But then it all started heating up and we’re carried away to a big, dramatic conclusion that was just perfect. I think the ending was just right. It wasn’t too moralising or patronising, but it did show Caddy that the relationship wasn’t healthy and something needed to give.

I’m writing this now in October 2015 and am annoyed that this book won’t be out until February next year – that’s so far away! Safe to say, this will be one to look forward to in 2016 and I hope it gets the praise and recognition it deserves.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Birdy by Jess Vallance

 

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