Few books truly express the complexity of friendship, particularly female friendships. They tend to be cast into the shadows, second fiddle to romantic relationships because nothing, so it seems, is as intense as a first love – until now.
In Sara Barnard’s Beautiful Broken Things, childhood best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable, or were until enigmatic and mysterious Suzanne worms her way into their tight unit. She is cooler, more reckless and for wallflower Cady, Suzanne is everything she wants to be – someone loved by boys and someone whose recklessness which she recognises as a carefree attitude which causes a rift between Caddy and Rosie as Caddy and Suzanne become increasingly close. However, as Suzanne’s secrets are slowly revealed to Caddy and she realises Suzanne isn’t carefree and confident as she thought, but someone struggling to cope as she adjusts to a new life, there are disastrous consequences as their relationship reaches toxic levels as well as touching upon the fragility of family relationships in the face of tragedy as well.
I cannot express how much I adore and admire this book. All 3 characters are given equal standing and their stories are as complicated as they are. Toxic friendships are something which I think there needs to be more of in YA because although toxic relationships are a common occurrence in society, so are toxic friendships and that’s something I think should be more reflected in YA – especially because teenagers and young adults are still finding their feet in regards to this and friendships are an ever changing thing in school particularly. It explores the jealousy felt by Rosie as Caddy and Suzanne develop a bond as she thinks Caddy is abandoning her, the desperation of Suzanne as she so desperately clings to Caddy to stay afloat and how Caddy is so blinded by her awe of Suzanne that she doesn’t realise when things begin to break.
I thought the character development of Caddy was superbly done and one thing I loved about Beautiful Broken Things was how Barnard reflected characters from a diverse range of backgrounds – there was the upper/middle class Caddy and the working class Suzanne and Rosie and it was done without stereotyping. The storyline was gripping and the subject mater was dealt with sensitively but without holding anything back.
A definite must read.
Rating: 5 stars.