Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Summer of Broken Things

35297600Haddix, Margaret Peterson. The Summer of Broken Things.
April 10th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Avery is a well-to-do 14-year-old who loves to play soccer. Her father must spend the summer in Spain for work, and her mother is staying to run her decorating business. Something is wrong with this situation, but Avery isn't quite sure what it is. Kayla is two years older and lives in a small town not too far from Avery's posh town. Her father was injured in an accident before he was deployed, leaving Kayla and her mother to live with her mother's folks while her mother tries to make ends meet with her nursing home job. Kayla isn't well liked at school because she is awkward and unattractive. The two girls were friends under odd circumstances when they were young, and Kayla is approached to come to Spain to be a companion for Avery. Neither girl is all that excited about it, but Kayla is glad to see the wider world. Things go wrong from the beginning-- Avery loses her passport, the apartment in Spain isn't great, Avery won't go to the Spanish language class the girls are both enrolled in, and a dark family secret that affects both families emerges. Avery throws herself headlong into passionate self pity, and Kayla cuts off contact with her very supportive family for a while. Even Avery's father is affected. When the three attempt a road trip to do some sight seeing, there is a medical emergency, and the girls have to work together to get through it. Eventually, they both come to the realization that life goes on no matter what has happened in one's life.
Strengths: Haddix is a local author, so there is always great demand for her books. This is definitely more young adult than many of her titles, in that it is more introspective and sad, but doesn't have inappropriate situations or content. It was interesting to see lives in Ohio portrayed from both ends of the economic spectrum.
Weaknesses: Avery was a horrible child, spoiled and self centered, and the situation with the family secret was not handled well by anyone. The descriptions of Kayla seemed half a bubble off (as someone who identifies more strongly with the working poor), especially when she loses weight over the summer. It was good to see her become more confident, though.
What I really think: This is rather lengthy (about 400 pages), and my readers tend to like there travel books to be a little happier. I may wait to purchase this, since I don't think it will have as many readers as Haddix's other work. High school libraries will definitely want to investigate.

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