Published by Macmillan!
‘Beautiful Broken Things’ by Sara Barnard is set in the seaside backdrop of Brighton and tells the tale of friendship and fragmented individuals from the perspective of ‘just nice’ Caddy. Caddy goes to a private school, different to the state school her best friend of ten years, Rosie, attends. That doesn’t stop them from having the close-knit bond they do though, filling their weekends together and having scheduled 9pm calls before bed with the landline phone pressed up to their ears. Everything about their friendship is perfect and Caddy really wouldn’t have it any other way. She would, however, like to have three things happen by the time she turns seventeen: 1) Get a boyfriend, 2) Lose her virginity, and 3) Experience a Significant Life Event. Perhaps she’ll get more than she bargained for when Rosie introduces her to Suzanne, the new girl at her school. Turns out, worries of possible replacement as the designated Best Friend or how absolutely perfect and interesting Suzanne seems could be the least of Caddy’s worries.
I read ‘Broken Things’ in just over two days, which can only be a testament to how good it was. I’ll admit I was side-eyeing the characters a lot of the time, but that isn’t to say I didn’t like them or enjoy seeing their journey and development unfold. More than anything, the particular way in which Sara Barnard decided to showcase them had me intrigued and seeking out the reasoning for why. Without giving too much away, Rosie jibes about Suzanne being a bit of a cliché and, to me, there were times when it really felt like Caddy, as the plain girl who doesn’t have much excitement going on in her life, finding herself developing this unique and unexpected bond with ‘messed up’ Suzanne, who’s wild and constantly ticking, seemed fairly predictable. That said, the constant mention of clichés turned the book and characters in on itself and made it almost cruelly ironic and real. Because aren’t we constantly faulting ourselves when we’re in a bad place for being so acutely textbook? We try to find flaws within even our feelings in order to somehow discredit and brush them off and that felt so scarily adolescent and true to me.
As for someone who is guilty of nearly always reaching for a good bit of romance to live vicariously through (because my own love life is near non-existent), it was also refreshing to see representation of such a raw platonic relationship. Caddy and Suzanne’s friendship perfectly portrayed just how intoxicating and all-encompassing friendships can be and that complexity in our human entanglements needn’t only come with romantic or sexual-orientated relationships. I also fell hard for Sara’s writing style, so you can bet I’m really excited to see what her next book brings.
‘”Letting go is just as important as holding on, sometimes.”‘
‘”Not all girls need boyfriends,” Suzanne said. “I’m a happy soloist, thanks.”‘