Friday 4 October 2019

Review on Beautiful Broken Things

Before her seventeenth birthday, Caddy wants to have achieved three things. Get a boyfriend, lose her virginity and experience a "Significant Life Event." However, Caddy gets more than she bargained for when Suzanne comes into her life, a girl who has recently moved to Brighton, and goes to the same school as Caddy's best friend Rosie. Suzanne is spontaneous, adventurous and a troublemaker, everything that Caddy isn't. The more Caddy learns about Suzanne and her past, the more she wants to help her. As Caddy spends more and more time with Suzanne, she realises that not all Significant Life Events are good.

When I learnt that this book was about friendship I was thrilled! I often don't tend to enjoy contemporary romance, so I loved that this book focused on friendship rather than romance. Teen girls can often be quite mean to each other, so I loved that this story was about a group of girls who would do anything for each other, and supported each other no matter what.

Caddy was an interesting character, and I related to her throughout the book. I particularly related to her near the start when Suzanne first started being friends with Rosie, making Caddy feel like the third wheel. Caddy feels that Rosie is replacing her with Suzanne, and feels unwanted and left out. I understood this feeling completely, as on a few occasions I have introduced two of my friends to each other only for them to become better friends with each other than with me. It's upsetting to see friends constantly hanging out together and never inviting you along, and it's easy to feel unwanted. It was interesting to find out that all the girls felt this way at some point, as Rosie was jealous when Caddy started going on adventures with Suzanne, while Suzanne was jealous of how long Rosie and Caddy had been friends, and how they knew everything about each other.

Feeling unwanted is a theme that runs throughout the book, as we soon learn about Suzanne's traumatic past and uncertain future. Suzanne was physically abused by her dad, giving her no choice but to move in with her Aunt Sarah. As Suzanne tries to cope with what happened to her, her behaviour becomes more erratic and unpredictable, with her constantly sneaking out the house in the middle of the night, drinking and smoking weed. Things go from bad to worse for Suzanne, as eventually, her Aunt decides her behaviour is too much for her to deal with, making Suzanne feel even more unwanted. Although this was an upsetting storyline, it was heartwarming to see Caddy stick by her friend no matter what, even when her parents tried to stop her from contacting her. When it seemed like everyone else had given up on Suzanne, Caddy was still doing her best to be there for her and do anything she could to help. Caddy went above and beyond to help Suzanne, and if saving the life of a friend isn't a significant life event then I don't know what is!

I adored the setting of this book! I've never actually been to Brighton, but Suzanne's love of Brighton's beach has made me want to visit. I thought Caddy was lucky to live so close to the beach, and like Suzanne, I would probably end up there all the time! I also loved that Caddy got to visit Suzanne's home in Reading. Although we don't see much of Reading, it's obvious that Caddy is out of her comfort zone, and isn't used to such a big city. I loved that we got to see where Suzanne used to live, and learned how different her life was to Caddy's. Whereas Caddy finds herself boring and hates that nothing interesting has happened to her, Suzanne has been through some terrible experiences. After going through a horrifying experience herself, Caddy seems to realise that nothing happening is far better than something terrible happening.

I have to talk about the mental health representation, which I thought was dealt with perfectly. Fortunately, I can't relate to Suzanne completely, but something I did relate to was the panic attacks.People experience panic attacks differently. It's not always the case that you start hyperventilating, but you always want to get away from the thing that is causing you to panic and go somewhere quiet while you calm down. Suzanne's panic attack caused by seeing her dad was practically identical to what happened to me once in a busy pub. Even though my parents had already ordered drinks, the number of people in the bar and the noise made me feel trapped, and as my anxiety got worse and worse, I just had to get out of there, which is how I came to have a panic attack while sitting alone in the middle of Leicester Square. Even though some people who have experienced panic attacks may not relate to Suzanne's experiences, I found it to be very real and believable. 

I overall loved this book and felt that it dealt with Suzanne's mental health perfectly. It's rare to find a contemporary YA book that focuses on friendship rather than romance, and I honestly wish there were more books like this! Sara Barnard is quickly becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors, and I can't wait to start Fierce Fragile Hearts to read more about these wonderful characters I've come to love!

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to pick this one up for so long. I end up putting off contemporaries because of the romance aspects, and rarely enjoying them, but the themes Sara explores in this one sounds just my kind of book. I'll have to pick up a copy!

    Lauren |