After reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder in January and absolutely loving it, I decided I should check out other books by Sara Barnard, and when I found Beautiful Broken Things in an adorable bookstore back in March, I knew I had to get it. And now I have finally read it and loved it.
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Author: Sara Barnard
Trigger Warning: self-harm, abuse, suicide
My rating: ★★★★☆
Caddy and Rosie have always been best friends, and as far as Caddy was concerned, she didn’t need other friends. Of course, she had a small group of girls she would hang aroud with at school, but no one as dear as Rosie, even if they didn’t attend the same school, and Rosie was much more extroverted than her.
A new school year starts, and Caddy makes plans, to meet boys, become less of an introvert, or have a life changing event. Rosie in the meantime becomes very close to new girl Suzanne, and wants more than everything for Suzanne and Caddy to become friends as well.
Suzanne is beautiful and mysterious and Caddy wants to be more like her. She also believes that Suzanne is hiding something, but when she finds out what she realises she didn’t expect that at all. It’s something bigger than her, something that might change her life as well.
What I loved about this book:
It doesn’t include romance. It’s just about friendship, and growing up, and more. And that, to me, was extremely relatable. When I was in high school, friendship was extremely important to me (it is by the way still the most precious thing to me I believe). And in most YA books it’s always about the romance. Which is beautiful and usually enjoyable, but unfortunately not something I can relate to. Friendship, that I can relate. And it is so important. So it’s nice to know there are books like this out there.
I really loved this book. I think it was a very beautiful and accurate portrayal of female friendship, and it feels so good to read such a thing. Female friendship is a complex things, and jealousy often gets in the way, even if you don’t do it on purpose. When new people get in the group, balance is changed. And the notion of “I was friends with her first” which is something both Caddy and Rosie pointed out in the book is also something I recognized. I could totally relate to the friendships depicted in this book, between Caddy and Rosie, and between Caddy and Suzanne. This is something that really spoke to me, and also something I have rarely seen in books. So if you’re in for friendships then this is definitely a book I would recommend. (And now that I think of it, A Quiet Kind of Thunder also had a wonderful friendship representation.)
The second thing that was, in my opinion, well represented, is mental illness. I can’t speak for the abuse part, but the feeling-broken part, the not-wanting-to-see-anyone part, the self-destructive feelings, that is something that in my opinion was well depicted. It was heartbreaking to read, I even gasped a few times at how powerful and relatable it was. Which made me conclude that it was definitely well depicted. However, if self-harm, abuse or suicide are things that trigger you, you should definitely be careful when picking up this book.
In addition to that, I also felt like Caddy was a quite relatable character. I could recognize myself in all this wanting to be more extroverted, and wanting finally to live something significant. This is something my teenage self would have painfully related to, and it was really great for me to read about such a person. (I also so someone writing in their review that Caddy was very annoying because she had everything, money and a loving family, and still asking for a stupid life changing event. Which helped me put things into perspective, and also made me realise how lucky I was to have had those things as a teen, and still have them today. However, it’s not always easy to feel the right thing, especially as a teen. And sometimes you can’t help but wish for more, wish for what’s shiny, wish for what you don’t have, and in that aspect, I really liked and related to Caddy’s character. I pretty much think I would have made all the same decisions if put in her situation, and it was quite comforting.)
Finally I just wanted to add that I really liked the fact that the story was set in Brighton, which seems to be such a cosy city by the sea, and it was really enjoyable to read about the girls going together to the beach, whether the weather was nice or bad.
Overall, this book talks about friendship and mental illness, and growing up. And all those things matter to me, and are beautifully portrayed throughout the story. Beautiful Broken Things is pure, relatable and moving. It is a precious boook, that will most likely stay on my mind for a very long time.
People who like powerful friendship stories, and those of you interested in characters with mental illness.
Hope you enjoyed this review!