Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Review ebook from NetGalley
Release Date: 11th February 2016
Much like the cover, and the title, this book is beautiful. I don’t often read contemporary novels, but Beautiful Broken Things was a delight to read. If not for work, I would have read this book in a day. Instead, I read it in three. This is a book which explores friendship, mental health and abuse.
Caddy has been best friends with Rosie since they were children, inseparable despite going to different schools. While they each have their own group of friends at their respective schools, no-one has ever come close to best friend-dom. That is until Suzanne arrives on the scene. Caddy finds her duo become a trio and must learn to deal with the new friendship dynamics. Things get even more complicated when Suzanne’s past is revealed and Caddy starts to discover the joy of rebellion.
While simple, I found the plot to be captivating and this was due, in no small part, to the characters. Caddy is a sympathetic lead – the typical ‘good girl’ who goes to privates school, does not like to step a toe out of line and would rather curl up in bed then go to a party. Her best friend is very different – Rosie is blunt and sarcastic, with an understanding of things that Caddy could never come close to; their friendship is deep-set and has remained unchanged for many years, until Suzanne enters the scene. Suzanne is probably the most complicated character in the book. She is a wild party animal who acts like she has not a care in the world. In fact, she is hiding a dark past and a fragile mental state that is only gradually revealed throughout the book.
Their friendship and various dynamics that you see throughout the book are fantastically well-written. The characters are relatable and realistic and you feel fully invested in their story. Rosie did get side-lined towards the middle of the book, which was a shame as I would have liked to see more of the Rosie-Caddy friendship as it was a major part of who Caddy is. I also feel she does not get as much character focus as the other two. Caddy develops nicely throughout the book and you can see her change in her manner of thinking and her actions but it is Suzanne’s story which really captures the attention. While somewhat dislikeable at first, she undergoes the most development out of the trio.
As a contemporary, this book is set in modern day UK. It is more of a character-driven novel so the setting does not take as much precedence as the characters but, despite that, you do get a very good sense of Caddy’s world. Both her and Suzanne’s bedrooms are described in great detail, and you get a good sense of the surrounding city.
Parts of the book are also told in text messages and email conversation which I felt captured the type of modern day friendships really well. This was especially well done as you could picture the characters writing the various messages and it provided a further insight into the friendship.
Beautiful Broken Things is a brilliant book which really captures the intricacies of friendship and the difficulties that come with it. The characters are realistic and you can easily connect to their stories as they try to grow through the events of the novel. It is an emotional yet easy read and a book I would recommend to contemporary lovers and those just starting out in the genre alike.