Friendships & Mental Illness: A Review of 'Beautiful Broken Things' by Sara Barnard

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Publishing Date: February 11, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads | Book Depository
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.

The main character isn't relatable.
Caddy was difficult to connect with. She's determined to have some "Significant Life Events" because she thinks her life is boring as nothing sad or difficult has happened to her. I can't understand the teenage need to not be boring and to have some cool stories to tell that make you stand out, but her real craving for them wasn't always easy to understand. Especially when she's comparing herself to her sister with bipolar and her best friend whose younger sibling died and whose dad walked out. It's hard to sympathise with someone who wants to have something like that in their life.

An exploration of friendship in teenage girls.
The highlight of the story is the friendships. Unlike a lot of other contemporaries, the focus isn't on romantic relationships but on the friendship between teenage girls. These friendships are often intense and complicated with threads of jealousy and I think this was explored very well in Beautiful Broken Things. 

The effect that mental illness can have in a friendship.
I think the mental illness aspect was handled well. Suzanne has a tragic background which has remained with her and has a real detrimental effect on her health. I liked that we follow Suzanne as she is away from those circumstances but still coming to terms with what happened. It was interesting to see how her demons also affect Caddy and Rosie. Caddy is pulled into Suzanne's wreckless behaviour and begins to lose control herself whilst Rosie grows tired of Suzanne's behaviour and Caddy's willingness to go along with it.

Overall, I liked the portrayal of Suzanne's mental illness and I also liked the writing. However, Caddy being so unlikable a lot of the time (e.g. purposefully triggering someone's traumatic past) and some iffy adult figures made it difficult to enjoy the story as a whole.

What are your favourite YA books dealing with friendship? What about mental illness?
Also, do you agree that the cover for this book is utterly gorgeous? I love it!

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  1. Great review. I’ve never seen this book before. I’m not sure if it’s my type of book, but the cover is beautiful.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks! :) it is definitely a gorgeous cover; I love the colours.