Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (25th Feb 2016)
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 realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
I’ve seen Beautiful Broken Things on my Twitter feed a few weeks before its publication date and I was genuinely interested to find out what it’s all about. Can we please lust over the cover because it’s clearly one of the best covers I’ve seen this year and it’s stunning and I realised that it could severely induce covergasms – which isn’t a bad thing at all.
To put it simply, Beautiful Broken Things is a story of a teenage girl, Caddy who has been the “good girl” all her life – attending an all-girls private school, getting good grades, being the good daughter every parent wants and the best friend everyone should have. Then enters Suzanne, beautiful and stunning in all her blonde glory, threatening to steal her best friend, Rosie’s attention. Could Suzanne’s very existence in their lives drive a wedge between Caddy and her best friend?
Oh, that’s what I thought when I read the blurb of the book. I had thought that it’s a book on friendship and how the appearance of an outsider could threaten the friendship of best friends. Well, that’s only the first part of it, when Suzanne is introduced to Caddy. I expected Mean Girls-level of snarkiness and bitchiness but that played second fiddle to the underlying plot.
I really enjoyed reading the way Sara Barnard navigated the intricacies of friendship and Beautiful Broken Things really encompassed the closeness of girls, a sacred bond between best friends, that sometimes could be stronger than the bond shared by sisters. Another thing I liked about Beautiful Broken Things was the character development in Caddy, from her usual, timid self, she was coaxed to test the waters a bit and I liked that she grew up from the experience, even if she had to take a few bumps along the way.
Beautiful Broken Things was a good debut for me, but there were some issues that made me think twice about the book as a whole and one of them was Suzanne, where I felt that she was quite annoying at times. I liked the focus on female friendships and how it deals with the issue of abuse, which is such a sensitive topic. It also highlights a tiny sliver of mental illness, where Sara Barnard introduces Caddy’s sister, Tarin, who suffered from bipolar disorder. However, I would have liked the book more if Tarin’s backstory was more elaborate and explored. Sara Barnard’s debut novel is a great addition to the collection of UK YA books out there.
Beautiful Broken Things is out now. I’d like to thank Pansing Singapore for sending me a copy in exchange for a review.