Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from Pansing Books, a regional distributor, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard • contains 336 pages • published February 11, 2016 by Macmillan Children's Books, Macmillan Publishers • classified as Contemporary, Young Adult • obtained through Pansing Books • read as ARC • shelve on 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 realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
Not Quite Catharsis
Reading Beautiful Broken Things struck me on many levels. There were a lot of things I related to her having gone through these myself. I’ve been in Caddy’s shoes. I’ve been in Rosie’s shoes. I’ve had a number of Suzanne’s in my life. I’ve learnt that groups of threes aren’t always the most stable of friend groups. Beautiful Broken Things reminded me of toxic relationships I’ve had, the naïve wishes to be there as a friend unravelled and being pushed aside as I wasn’t included in the plans of two when we should have been three.
On all these fronts and more I recognised truth and painful relation. Seeing all that in literature is a reminder that even though the sum of my experiences is unique, the individual ones aren’t. I am not alone. Others have gone through what I have. Reading about others go through the same often offers up catharsis through happy endings that could have been. Beautiful Broken Things stopped right before that, as it cut exceedingly close to reality: uncertainty will always remain.
Intensity of Friendship
The reason I wanted to read Beautiful Broken Things was the promise of a story about friends. This book exceeded those expectations with the intensity of friendship it portrayed. Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne, they all needed each other. Their friendships weren’t always the healthiest but they loved each other, that much was evident. For that intensity, I couldn’t put down Beautiful Broken Things.
In fact, Beautiful Broken Things made it very clear that friendships aren’t inherently good or bad. There is value in friendship but what matters most is how the people relate to one another. Are the friends worth the trouble or do they merely cause an alarming share of it?
Tighter Pacing Needed
As much as I liked Beautiful Broken Things, I wish the pacing would have been tighter. The plot peaked so quickly towards the end and before anything sunk it, there already was the resolution. As much as I could appreciate the sentiments that drove these developments, I felt that that resulted in an ending that set agains the rest of the book was weak. The sequence of events fit but the rhythm didn’t remain as consistent as it needed to be throughout the book.