Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Caddy is still waiting for something that will set her apart. A Significant Life Event. Everyone has them. Some have more than others. And Caddy is yet to have a single one.
Her life is for the most part, uneventful. She spends most of her time with Rosie, her best friend for ten years now. She can hardly remember a time without Rosie, her dry sarcasm and snide comments, her steady friendship.
Caddy spends day after day at Esther’s, the private school that she finds no belonging in. She is unknown there, aside from her small group of friends – a reality that she knows bothers her mom. Good grades are never enough at Esther’s. It doesn’t mean being elected prefect or getting good reports at parent meetings. It means mediocrity.
And then Caddy meets Suzanne.
Beautiful, blonde, blue eyed, confident Suzanne.
Suzanne, who has the potential to steal Rosie’s friendship from Caddy.
But as the girls spend more time together, Caddy begins to wonder if Suzanne is hiding something.
She never talks about her life before moving to Brighton.
She hasn’t said why she lives with her aunt and not her parents, and why the dynamic between the two of them is so strange.
Gradually, secrets about Suzanne’s Before are revealed and Caddy is caught up in a whirlwind.
Suzanne wants freedom. Caddy wants importance and bravery.
The truth is, everything about Suzanne is a bit mysterious. A bit reckless. Messy. And together, the two of them could be trouble.
I first saw Beautiful Broken Things in the introductory video Zoe Sugg did for her new Zoella Book Club. It caught my eye right away and it was the first book I reached for out of the entire collection. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and looking back, I truly think it perfectly reflects what Beautiful Broken Things is about. The birds, the hands reaching upwards, the rays of sunlight, the gold lettering. I actually dropped my book while writing this review and let out a scream – dropping a beautiful book is like dropping a brand new phone to me!
I’m also a sucker for contemporaries and this seemed like the kind of book that could very well be put on my ‘favorites’ shelf.
While I’m going to do my best to portray the feelings I have about these characters, I know that I will not do them justice. Caddy, Suzanne and Rosie have become some of my favorite people I have ever read about, and I honestly can’t even completely explain why I love them so much to myself – not in a way that would make much sense, anyway! I’ll just try my best.
I’ll start with Caddy.
I have heard people say that they wish Beautiful Broken Things had been told from the point of view of Suzanne, rather than Caddy. I, however, feel that Caddy was the perfect person to tell this particular story.
From the beginning, she was a little lost. She didn’t quite see where she fit in. She struggled with the fact that she could never seem to meet the expectations of her parents. She was jealous of Rosie’s natural confidence and wanted something special of her own.
Caddy was easily influenced, and that is what made her relationship with Suzanne so wonderful. She didn’t know quite who she was yet, and being a friend to Suzanne made her feel like she mattered. This allowed Caddy to explore Suze’s life and her struggle better.
Throughout the book, Caddy makes mistakes. She succumbs to pressure. She wrestles with how to best support and help her friend. She grows in her understanding of people and her understanding of herself.
And then of course, there was Suzanne.
My favorite thing about Suze was her vulnerability. She is this wonderful girl, full of kindness and warmth, but she is also extremely sad and hurt.
Suzanne is, to sum it all up, a very real, very true character. She wasn’t stereotypical or cliché. She was complex and vibrant.
We see how all of her hurt and pain affects those around her – how, at times, it can be impossible to understand and unpredictable. How she carries it around with her everywhere and it never really ceases. How, although this pain is always present, Suzanne is still just a girl. A girl who needs friends and people who have her back.
Suze’s character really showed that no matter how perfect someone might look on the outside, the inside is an entirely different story. We can never assume. We need to make an effort to understand.
Lastly there is Rosie.
Rosie, in my opinion, tied everything together. No matter how far Caddy strayed from her, Rosie cared. She was the kind of girl that you want as a friend.
Her sarcasm and remarks always ended in warmth. I think her character represented something that we so often forget but that seemed really important to me – not all friendships are alike. It is a topic that doesn’t entirely come up until near the end of the book, but it made the entire book make sense. What Caddy had with Suzanne was different than what she had with Rosie, and yet that was okay. Rosie would always be there for her in the end.
Okay, I’ve ranted for WAY too long – but it was needed! The characters were the key part of Beautiful Broken Things, and to be honest, I haven’t stopped thinking about them since I finished the book!
Because of Sara’s writing, you truly felt the entire book. It seems like a silly thing to say, but you really experienced it, rather than simply read it. She didn’t shimmy through any aspect of the story – she worked hard to make sure we understood.
Something that I really noticed in Beautiful Broken Things was how natural and easy the dialogue was. One of my writing pet peeves is when authors write like we should talk, not how we do talk. I could imagine each conversation as though it were happening right in front of me. It was, like everything else in the story, so real.
Sara is absolutely fantastic. I cannot wait until her next book is released. It is already on my TBR. I honestly cannot recommend her to enough people. She writes with emotion, and that is so powerful.
I really loved that Beautiful Broken Things was set in Brighton. I’ve never been there, but it seems like a great place to set a book. Also, I cannot for the life of me think of ‘Brighton’ without putting an English accent on the word – it’s the same with ‘bath’. Is that just me? Okay. Cool.
Sara did a brilliant job of creating places that rang true to the story. I particularly loved Suzanne’s room. I could picture it perfectly – the fairy lights, and the walls covered in clippings from magazines, sticky notes, postcards, and playlists. The way she left a path clear to her window. It was really symbolic – Suzanne felt empty, so she filled her room with paraphernalia that made her feel safe.
I’ve said almost all I can say already. You really just have to read Beautiful Broken Things for yourself. It has made my top favorites list, and it is one of those books that will stay close to my heart for a very long time.
I’m pretty sure every review written about Beautiful Broken Things points this out, but YA is missing a lot of books about sheer friendship. No romance, just friendship. I loved that this book showed that sometimes, simply being a friend is the best gift you can possibly give someone.
Oh, and the ending.
The ending was spectacular. I loved that not everything was resolved. I was really hoping that Barnard wouldn’t try and wrap it all up in the last few chapters, because real life isn’t like that. It wouldn’t have been realistic, especially considering what Suzanne was dealing with. Feeling better takes time – it doesn’t happen magically; instantly.
Beautiful Broken Things is special. It will touch everyone in a different way. It is a story about the After of the trauma.
The lengths gone to when trying to feel better.
The way it takes hold of relationships.
The downward spiral.
And quite possibly, healing.
Want to find out more about Sara? Visit her at her blog!
Thanks so much for reading this review! I really appreciate you visiting my blog.
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