Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Series: Beautiful Broken Things #1
Author: Sara Barnard
Genre/Themes: Young Adult Contemporary, Coming of Age, Mental Health, Female Friendship
Blurb 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.
OMG THE FEELS!
I was SOBBING by the end. But like really good sobbing. Sobbing because of the excellent portrayal of complex female friendships and the presence of utterly authentic characters.
Characters that weren’t perfect.
Characters who were blinded by their own ignorance but did the best they could with what they knew.
The book follows the perspective of Caddy. Caddy is that quiet type of person. She doesn’t rock the boat. She tries her best to please her parents. She has a steady home-life with loving parents which makes her feel boring. She sees herself as this entirely bland and uninteresting person, and in her own self doubt wishes that she had had something exceptional happen to her to make her seem more compelling to others… even sometimes being envious of tragedy.
And all of these things combine to make her so authentic. And especially teenage. I loved that she didn’t realise her privilege. That she was just gloriously immature and that the journey her character went on in the book helped her to learn about the world and how harsh it can be others others.
The story sets the scene in the following way: Caddy has been best friends with Rosie since forever! Even though they go to separate schools. And then at the beginning of the new school year Rosie meets Suzanne… and suddenly the duo becomes a trio and this completely unsettles Caddy.
So to start with the book explored the balance of the long term friendship versus the new dynamic with Suzanne’s arrival and it truly was such an honest depiction of jealousy, self doubt and the fear of change that I think many of us can identify with if we are truly honest. No one wants to be forgotten in favour of a shiny new toy.
But anyway, as the book went on Caddy began to feel more and more comfortable with Suzanne and the two became close… and the story explored more about Suzanne’s past and then it becomes clear that even though the book is told from Caddy’s perspective it really is all about Suzanne.
It becomes apparent that Suzanne has suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her family and that this has moulded her behaviours. And through Caddy’s eyes we see Suzanne’s mental health struggles and how badly she is suffering. What we also see is how these struggles affect Caddy and her attempts to be a friend to Suzanne, juxtaposed against Rosie’s very different attitudes towards friendship and support.
And without wishing to spoil the plot what I will say is that this book sensitively explores the impact of abuse on the mental health of both the victim and on those around them. It explores the different approaches to loving and caring for someone with deep trauma and how sometimes it is easy to mistake friendship for enabling behaviours.
This is honestly one of the best YA books I have ever read.
The topics covered are dark but expertly handled. The study of female friendship is nothing short of excellent (a YA book about friendship and not romance! Fantastic!). And the three main teenage characters each feel authentic. No one of the three is perfect; they each have their flaws and this just makes them feel all the more relatable in my opinion. I think that both Caddy and Suzanne go on hugely compelling character journeys over the course of the book and the ending is perfectly played out. And as for the supporting characters (e.g. Caddy’s parents, Suzanne’s aunt etc.)… I love how they act with this mixture of love and self-interest. Makes them all the more fascinating to read about.
There’s simply nothing I would change about this book. It’s a book about regular people who screw up and make bad choices when all they are trying to do is the right thing. And that to me is exactly what each of our lives is. An attempt to do the best we can with what we know.
Review for the sequel Fierce Fragile Hearts – CLICK HERE
Other Works by Sara Barnard I’ve Reviewed
- Destination Anywhere
- Fierce Fragile Hearts
- Floored (contributing author)
- Goodbye Perfect
- A Quiet Kind of Thunder