Beautiful Broken Things is a touching and stunningly realistic novel, written by Sara Barnard.
Caddy and Rosie have been best friends forever and any differences they have only makes them closer. But Caddy always wishes she could be more like Rosie – more confident, more funny and more interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things begin to get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy starts to see how much fun it is to be a little bit reckless. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Cassy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
I jumped into Beautiful Broken Things without knowing much about it, not knowing I’d come out the other side with one of my new favourites. This book was spectacular in so many ways and reached me emotionally on so many levels. It was heartbreaking, heartwarming and everything in between. One of the things that I loved most about this book was that it wasn’t a romance. Sure, there are some love interests and moments of romance scattered throughout the book, but these moments aren’t pivotal and don’t shape the story. It was fantastic to read a novel that emphasised the importance of friendship and illustrated the true difficulty and beauty and magic that having such close relationships with your friends can hold. I honestly think we need more YA novels that revolve around the central theme of friendship, not always romance. Pretty much every book I read and show I watch deals with finding love or falling in love, and to be honest, I’m a little bored of that. Sure, romance can be cute and fun to read, but I don’t think it should be held up on a pedestal and ranked more important that all the other different types of love. Because there are so many different types of love, and we shouldn’t forget that. Familial love. The love we have for our friends. Self-love. All of these types of love are important and one shouldn’t be thought more highly of than others. That’s part of the reason why this book is so important to me – because it doesn’t make romance seem more illustrious and essential than other types of love, friendship in particular.
I absolutely loved the dynamics between Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne. I felt as though I could definitely relate to all of the characters at different times and their friendship felt incredibly real. Each of these characters were so well written and their friendship never came across as unoriginal or cliched. The balance between them all was perfect and I was pleased to see that I felt like I knew them all very well at the end. I particularly liked watching the friendship between Caddy and Suzanne develop and while at times I was a bit unsure what the implications of acting recklessly would be, it was very entertaining and that’s part of what kept this novel so engaging. It was also devastating to see the breakdown of friendships as a result in the changing dynamics of this group. I think it that was so heartbreaking to see because that’s happened to almost all of us and it’s something most, if not all, teenagers can relate to.
Something that I didn’t expect to see in this book was that mental health played such a vital role in it, however I was pleased to see that while these sorts of issues were a part of this book, they didn’t overtake the story. What I hate seeing is books that revolve solely around a person’s mental health. Like, it’s cool that we’re seeing these types of stories, but usually all that happens is the person suffering from one of these disorders falls hopelessly in love with another person and everything ends tragically. That’s obviously not what living with a mental illness is like – that’s just blatantly disregarding how debilitating and life-threatening these illnesses can be and romanticising them, prompting potential younger readers to think that if they have a mental illness, they’ll become quirky and endearing and therefore someone is more likely to fall in love with them. Maybe that’s part of what made this book so spectacular. It is one of the few books that I’ve read that deals with mental health in such a realistic way while not forcing the character into a relationship because the author thinks it would be ‘cute’ and allow teenagers to swoon over the handsome boy who ‘helps’ the person overcome their ‘problems’ by kissing them and telling them everything will be okay. That’s how mental illnesses ‘disappear’, right? As you can see, I’m very cynical about these types of writers. Thank goodness Sara Barnard isn’t one of them. I love you, Sara. Thanks for giving birth to this book.
Beautiful Broken Things encompasses so many different issues that it brings to light and I’m so pleased to have read this realistic and accurate portrayal of a teenager’s life. But it isn’t all serious. Sure, there are a lot of serious topics and times in this novel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun read. It’s gripping, compelling and full of wit. I’d give Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard a score of 10 out of 10. I honestly recommend this book to anyone, regardless of you’re a teenager or not, because it possesses some of the most important messages we need to know in life. So let’s talk about it! Have you read this book yet? Has my review made you add this one to your TBR? What are some of the best/worst books you’ve read in relation to the portrayal of mental illnesses? I’d love to know 🙂
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!