Thursday, 17 November 2016

Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard

Beautiful Broken Things - Sara Barnard
What happens when your best girl friend makes a new friend? Is three a crowd? And can there ever be more than one best? Beautiful Broken Things explores the dynamics between Caddy (private school introvert), Rosie (state school straight-talker) and newcomer Suzanne (beautiful miss perfect) in an intensely enthralling way.

But there is a darker and even more traumatic thread about a teenage girl recovering from childhood abuse, desperately trying to put her hateful past behind her (and frustratingly, for her, her friends, and the reader, not always succeeding). It explores mental health problems (and even better, pulls the ‘concept’ apart a bit), experiencing them yourself, and as a friend, figuring out what the best way to help someone really is.

Many characters in the novel have knowledge of Suzanne’s past, but they all keep it very hush-hush – especially and most notably the adult characters. This adds an element of suspense to the plot and keeps you on your toes the whole way through the novel. But, it also raises the questions of blame and involvement in child abuse. When is it okay to interfere and stop something? Will you be doing more harm than good?

Beautiful Broken Things is Sara Barnard’s debut novel and has been nominated for the 2017 Carnegie medal.

An extra (and minutely spoilery) note

Suzanne is an interesting character but a lot of the characters in the novel don’t warm to her. I didn’t either. I thought she was probably a liar and that there was going to be a plot twist  (and it says a whole lot about how we view the abused and abusers anyway) and this added an element of suspense and mystery. But, because of this, I did find myself asking the question ‘why’ in relation to her aunt Sarah, quite a bit.  This link is a bit spoilery and it doesn’t answer my exact question, but Sara Barnard (the author) has blogged about victimisation and blame.

Publication details: 2016, Macmillan Children’s Books, London, paperback
This copy: for review from the publisher

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