Title: Fierce Fragile Hearts
Series: Beautiful Broken Things #2
Author: Sara Barnard
Genre/Themes: Young Adult Contemporary, Female Friendship, Mental Health, Relationships, Foster System, Coming of Age
Blurb from Goodreads
‘This time around, I’m going to be so much better. I’m going to prove to them that it was worth waiting on me.’
Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?
Fierce Fragile Hearts is the stunning sequel to international bestseller Beautiful Broken Things.
I am emotionally spent.
I’ve spent the last two days reading this book and its series predecessor Beautiful Broken Things (review here) and …. well I truly don’t know what to say.
These books are exceptional.
They both deal with the complexities of female friendship in the most touching manner ever.
Fierce Fragile Hearts is set two years after the events of Beautiful Broken Things and is written from the PoV of Suzanne (as opposed to Caddy whose PoV was used for BBT)
Suzanne has been living away from friends Caddy and Rosie in Brighton and instead was with a foster family In Southampton and has been in therapy in the time elapsed since the events of book one. But she’s now 18 and is therefore leaving the care system. So she decides to return to Brighton in an effort to make some sort of home for herself.
And what follows is a tumultuous year where we truly get to see the impacts of the abuse she was subjected to as a child have on her now as a young adult attempting to make her way in the world. And it’s so painful to read about. My heart hurt so much for this character. I wanted to cocoon her in love and warmth. I wanted her to find peace and love… basically as a reader I was like freaking Caddy in this equation. Y’all remember Caddy from book one? A well intentioned but ultimately blind to reality fool. Well reading this I was as moronic as privileged Caddy who doesn’t understand Suzanne and craves this healing love for her. So when the character of Matt came along my heart leaped… could he be the one to show Suzanne love so that she could view herself like others view her?
But this book goes so much deeper than romantic love.
It doesn’t promise any quick fixes. There’s no magic. Characters have to experience all their emotion. They have to live with their scars. They have to openly deal with such too. So it’s all about creating loving bonds of friendship and starting a journey of trust with yourself.
As with the first book each of the three friends (Suzanne, Caddy and Rosie) again feel incredibly authentic. No one is perfect. No one is truly wrong. They’re all just people who care so deeply about each other and for whom friendship means everything.
There are also some new characters in this book.
- As mentioned earlier there’s Matt with whom Suzanne instantly has chemistry.
- There’s Caddy’s boyfriend Kel who I was truly surprised by…honestly loved him!
Can we just praise this book for writing such great characters irrespective of gender? So much in YA that focuses primarily on female characters the boys can start to feel very stereotypical [cough Holly Bourne’s writing cough cough] and I just liked how this book gave a bit more depth to these side male characters.
- And then there’s wonderful Dilys… a spunky elderly neighbour of Suzanne’s with whom Suzanne forms such a quiet but profound friendship…
- And also there’s a cute little doggie thrown in the mix so this dog lover is 100% sold!
This book, and book one, are just great at giving narrative and agency to the voice of victims. There’s a theme running through this novel in particular in which certain characters try to cast Suzanne as dramatic and only ever focusing on the bad aspects of her past…. and my god I sobbed reading these parts. Reading how this girl had to fight for her truth to br recognised and how she had to admit that some people just will always see things differently for their own self-gain. All I’ll say is chapter 25…. TEARS AND HEARTACHE!
Overall this is just an incredible book. I was a bit nervous that this sequel wouldn’t continue the quality of plot and character that was so evident in book one… but I am so glad to report that my feelings of trepidation were unfounded.
Highly recommend this to fans of contemporary YA
Other Works by Sara Barnard I’ve Reviewed
- Beautiful Broken Things
- Destination Anywhere
- Floored (contributing author)
- Goodbye Perfect
- A Quiet Kind of Thunder