All about friendship, this book is special. Focusing on the lives of Caddy, the protagonist, and her two friends Rosie and Suzanne as they try and navigate teenage life. Full of fun, friendship and the inevitable drama that comes with being 16 years old, ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ is an amazing novel and a masterful debut.
This is marketed as a book without any romance. It’s purely about the relationship between three friends, and how it can be difficult to juggle each girl’s expectations and demands. Friendship is hard, and the perfect breeding ground for jealousy and envy and all that nasty stuff that stops girls celebrating each other’s existence. The struggles of friendship and feeling torn between friends that don’t click as well is extremely prevalent in this book. I loved how it wasn’t sugarcoated. Girls can be mean, and girls can hurt each other’s feelings. I’m pretty sure everyone has experienced insecurity within their own friendship group. It’s kind of universal. So, ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ has a great way of showing both the highs and the lows of having best friends.
The only negative?
I stopped believing I could only have one BEST friend years ago. It’s a conflict that only exists within Jacqueline Wilson books, not real life. It doesn’t matter if you call two, three, heck even one hundred people your best friend. Best might be a superlative, but friends are all equally super. I didn’t like how Rosie and Suzanne fought for the title of ‘Best Friend’ when it’s perfectly fine to have more than one!
I don’t think I’ve related with a character quite as much as I have with Caddy in a long time. She was shy and ‘nice’, the only word anyone could describe her with. It’s not new to write from the plain Jane perspective but somehow, Sara Barnard made me connect with Caddy, more than I’ve connected with Emily, for example, from ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’. I know well what’s it’s like to feel like your friends are all zestier than you. Her insecurity was real, and so was her desire to prove herself. Caddy, my heart is with you.
I like to think the three friends represented three different levels of confidence in girls. Caddy was lower rung, Rosie was confident but not flashy, in your face, everyone talks about her kind of way, and Suzanne was top of the scale, just that. BUT confidence doesn’t mean invulnerability. I loved getting to explore Caddy and Suzanne as they realised what each other’s lives were like and confronted each other about how they acted. Caddy became more adventurous, but at a cost. Suzanne may have been happy on the outside, but her attitude was destructive. I think ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ did a beautiful thing by emphasising the importance of being their for your friends, and making sure they don’t feel broken.
I feel like I could rave about this book for decades. There are books that exist in the universe already, but somehow this one fills a void. It’s like friendship is only ever discussed in middle grade books and then as soon as you progress to YA, romance and love interests make it seem like keeping friends is impossible. Friendship is so important to so many people’s lives, it deserved to be talked about, as do the other important issues covered in the book like mental health, alcohol and abuse (*trigger warning!*)
I like how Sara Barnard is bridging the gap, and bring strong female friendships into the young adult genre. I would 100% recommend this, especially if you like books by Non Pratt (a.k.a. YA Author Goals.) Read ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ and fall in love with friendship. It literally moved me to tears. 5 stars.