Friday 12 February 2016

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard.

Product details:
Publisher: MacMillan Children's Books.
Paperback, 400 pages.
Release date: February 11th 2016.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 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.

Shy, retiring type Caddy is used to living her life in the shadows cast by her confident best friend, Rosie.  Caddy knows she’ll never be the life and soul of the party, she knows she’ll never hook up with the hottest guys; but at least she’s invited to the parties with the hottest guys, thanks to her popular friend.   Caddy’s OK with that. She’s OK being a bit of a wallflower, or at least she was, until now. Caddy’s sick and tired of never setting a foot wrong, sick and tired of always being home in time for curfew, sick and tired of always being the good girl. Caddy wants something to happen in her life. Her reasoning: significant life events, no matter how awful they might be (illness, family members dying etc.) just make life more interesting –they’ll make her more interesting.  Caddy’s got a lot to learn, doesn’t she? And she’s about to learn a lot when new girl Suzanne enters her life. Suzanne is as beautiful as she is mysterious, and it soon becomes clear to Caddy that Suzanne has experienced some of those life-changing events that she so craves.

Beautiful Broken Things is an engagingly written tale, and it is honest and true in its depiction of the intense female friendships of youth: these girls are the kind of friends who tell each other everything, who confess all their deepest, darkest secrets to one another.  They see each other through highs and lows, and boys certainly never come between them. Together, these girls think they can take on the world - that they can handle anything – but they soon learn that’s not always the case.

It quickly becomes clear that despite Suzanne’s outward appearance, she’s got some issues. Some major issues.  Caddy and Rosie have grown up together, they are a tight knit duo, and it’s only natural that there are some teething issues when a third party enters their relationship. Caddy is initially a little hostile towards Suzanne – the new girl quickly forms a bond with Rosie as they go to school together – and seeks to scratch beneath the surface –i.e. Facebook stalk her- to uncover the secret she is sure Suzanne is hiding. I’ll say it, there were certain things - quite a few of things, actually- that I didn’t like about Caddy. She seeks to deliberately hurt Suzanne, and even though she makes up for that in time, I was never sure if her intentions were totally genuine. Rather, I felt like Caddy was the kind of person who likes to do good just so that other people will rave about all the good she is doing. But, maybe I’m being a little harsh here. Caddy is naïve – and we all make mistakes.

Not Rosie, though.  Streetwise Rosie soon senses a problem with Suzanne: she knows that Suzanne is the kind of friend who will lead her down the wrong path. And so she backs away, distancing herself from that friendship. Rosie is the kind of girl who doesn’t suffer fools, and she doesn’t get dragged into great big messes that are sure to end in disaster either. No, that would be Caddy. She just can’t say no to Suzanne.  Together, Caddy and Suzanne are a recipe made for disaster – but where will it all end? Can Caddy save Suzanne from herself? Or is she so happy to bask in the light cast on her by Suzanne’s sunshine smile that she is oblivious as to what is really going on with her new friend?

One things for sure, by the end of this book Caddy has gained a whole host of those significant life events she so wished for.

As refreshing in its honest portrayal of female friendships as it is raw and riveting, Beautiful Broken Things is set to be a big UKYA hit for 2016, and this compelling tale truly deserves all the success that I’m sure will come its way.  If you loved Undone by Cat Clarke, then Sara Barnard’s book is sure to be a hit for you. 

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