Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Unbreak My Heart
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't entirely sure about this book when I first picked it up because I had some problems with Walker's previous outing Small Town Sinners. Plus I have been in a bit of a reading/reviewing rut where books have not been exciting me. Not exactly an auspicious beginning.
And at first, my apathy seemed overwhelming. Main character Clem is spending the summer on a boat with her family, sailing down the Mississippi River. My family is composed of indoor people so this seems like a horrid idea to me. I mean, I'm all for family togetherness but spending months on a 42-feet boat does not seem like the way to do. Still the family in the book has a long history and connection to boating so it's actually pretty perfect for them. And once I got past my own feelings about sailing, I did grow to like the idea. There is a whole community of boaters and we get deeper insight into two other families along the way.
Plus the boating works out well for Clem who almost had a fantastic junior year until the last few days when something went down between her and her best friend's boyfriend Ethan, resulting in her being ostracized and desperate to get away from the gossip and rumors. Once upon the boat, she spends most of her time moping and sulking. Chapters alternate between her healing and her flashbacks to that disastrous lead-up and fallout.
While some people will have trouble liking Clem (I almost didn't like her myself), I really bought into her feelings (the sulking I did as a teenager-whoa) and especially her feelings about best friend Amanda and how the loss of that friendship is affecting her. I just feel like a lot of YA doesn't spend much time on female friendships, focusing instead on love triangles (or in the case of dystopia, fights for survival...along with a love triangle ;) And for me, as a teenager, my friendships were SO much more important. Of my closet friends, I've known four of them since eighth grade or earlier-that's about half of my life. So I liked Clem a lot even as she lashed out at her adorable younger sister and parents (who are a. present and b. really understanding and loving to Clem). I also liked what we saw of Amanda in flashbacks (Amanda is colorful and dramatic and definitely reminds me of some of my friends).
But the book is not just about remembering and making peace with the past. It is also about Clem's journey toward healing, spurred on by her encounter with James, who is also going down the Mississippi with his father. His sunny disposition disconcerts and eventually inspires Clem, especially as she gets to learn more about him and his past. Although James is not personally to my taste as someone to swoon for, he is a good guy and I liked his relationship with Clem.
Overall: It's early but I think this is a great summer read so put it on your list and clear space in your schedule for a lazy day at the beach or the park or curled up in your favorite reading post so you can enjoy this book :)
Cover: Fairly accurate! I'm rubbish at remembering how characters are described so I can't remember if Clem has long hair but this book takes place mostly on a boat so that is good and I love how the sails make a heart. It looks like this book is a great contemporary read, perfect for the summer, which is true!