Sunday, 11 March 2018

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things

First of all, the cover art of this novel is not only quite unusual, it’s so simple yet eye-catching that it literally made me want to read it straight away. (Yes I’m one of those people who judges a book by its cover and I know that is a terrible habit, ha). I liked the fact that this is a Young Adult novel that isn’t about love and instead is about friendship; how opposites can attract. Caddy and Rosie have been the best of friends for over ten years, staying close even though they attend different schools. Caddy attends a private girls’ school and Rosie the local comprehensive. As a result, Caddy is extremely shy, most likely because she is always with Rosie and doesn’t make much of an effort with her schoolfriends (and she doesn’t really know any boys… at all). She dreams of being more confident and outgoing, like Rosie, but it doesn’t come naturally to Caddy; she’s genuinely does prefer fading into the background a little although she doesn’t seem to struggle with making friends, as Rosie isn’t her sole friend, but she seems to prioritise her to all of her school friends, often rebuffing their invitations for social events, choosing to see Rosie instead. In fairness, Rosie does seem like a good friend, but on the surface they don’t seem to have much in common, if anything. For a sixteen year old girl, Caddy seems to have a lot of freedom as she goes to a lot of parties and gets drunk fairly regularly, too.

So, Caddy makes a plan. She wants to become more interesting, have ‘significant’ things happen to her, such as losing her virginity and getting a boyfriend. In short, she’s a typically selfish and spoiled teenage girl. She compares herself to her sister Tarin, who is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and Rosie, who lost a sibling. Caddy thinks that this makes them interesting – the issue that I had is that mental illness and tragic events aren’t interesting, they’re not something to be trivialised or misunderstood. Neither of those things are easy to live with, but Caddy doesn’t seem to be able to realise that. When Suzanne, a new girl at Rosie’s school joins in their friendship group, Caddy is immediately jealous, certain that she is going to lose her best friend. At this point, I found Caddy to be infuriating; she is the definition of me, me, me and that’s always irritating but she does start caring for others more over the course of the novel. The novel is told purely from Caddy’s point of view, so all of the character development is described through Caddy; to start with, we see the three girls in a group of friends, at the cinema and various tourist spots in Brighton before seeing more of an intimate, three way friendship. Caddy and Suzanne bond surprisingly well, although Caddy’s intentions are good, I wasn’t convinced that she liked her that much to being with; she found her ‘interesting’ as Suzanne has suffered a difficult upbringing. That said, it was great to read a YA book that covers drug and alcohol abuse, relationships, mental health and domestic violence without sugarcoating the issues; it showed the high and lows of teenage life.

Suzanne is everything that Caddy would love to be; beautiful, funny and sexually active. Caddy is sensitive, kind and well meaning, but she also encourages Suzanne too much, which is why the two girls become closer than Rosie and Caddy ever were, often sneaking out their houses late at night to see each other. Together, the two girls are pretty dangerous and seem to have no sense of safety; not a good combination. However, as the plot developed so did their friendship and I liked how they connected regardless of class or privilege. Caddy’s parents weren’t supportive enough of the friendship at all, which really irritated me as Caddy truly did try to be a good friend to Suzanne, although sometimes she definitely judged situations wrongly. Suzanne wasn’t the best influence on Caddy, but in fairness she seemed to really want to impress Caddy and keep her as her best friend; the three way friendship seems quite strained at times, particularly as Rosie started to feel deliberately excluded from the others, although Caddy wasn’t impressed to know that they both talked about her behind her back, too. I loved the fact that the novel was more about relationships in terms of friendship than the romantic kind; it makes a nice change. The introduction of Suzanne into Caddy and Rosie’s very stable friendship was a nice touch and definitely took the novel along a different path. In all honesty, Suzanne makes the plot what it is; she adds a level of excitement and fun that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise; I can see why the author has described it as a ‘love story without a romance’ because that summarises the book completely in its entirety. It is a funny, cute and heartbreaking tale of teenage friendship, one that explores emotions, situations and the difficulty of starting to grow up. The three girls learn a lot about themselves, each other and the consequences of their actions. I loved the friendship between Rosie and Caddy as it wasn’t only solid, it felt real; even as some cracks started to show, ultimately they had each other’s backs and it was lovely to see their closeness develop further. The relationship between Rosie and Suzanne was nice to see too; as much as Rosie could be dismissive of Suzanne’s struggles, she was always honest about her misgivings about Caddy getting into trouble, and ultimately Rosie was a lifesaver. Caddy and Suzanne’s friendship was incredibly close, but also a bit of a surprise as on the surface, they had absolutely nothing in common, but a Caddy was a great listener and offered up her time whenever it mattered. Between the three girls, they were daring, reckless and realistic and that’s what made the novel enjoyable. I read this on a long journey and it was perfect; easy to read but full with interesting moments, both good and bad. The ending had me pretty emotional, too. I give it a good 4 stars because I liked the characters and the writing style, but it’s a little too young for me to give it 5; not trying to sound harsh, haha. Definitely give it a go!

1 comment:

  1. I feel the exact same about it being to young for me! I'm 21 and was kind of cringing haha. I think if I had read it when I was still in high school I would of enjoyed it a lot more! But still, it's still a nice read.
    Are you on Good Reads? x


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