Unbreak My Heart was the short summer read I needed. The pacing was excellent, the characters were likeable, their actions understandable, and the writing was easy to get through. I love the setting of the book—most of it is set on either Clem’s or James’ boat, at sea, and in and around the marinas they visit.
The chapters alternate between the here and now with her family on the boat, and flashbacks from when she first met Ethan, the guy she fell for, and everything started to fall apart with her best friend, Amanda. I loved this format. In the beginning of the book, it’s all quite mysterious what happened and how it happened and all the details of it, but eventually, Clementine starts slowly letting you in. The flashback chapters start with an unfinished letter Clem attempts to write to her ex best friend, in hope of being forgiven.
The characters were all likeable and well written. I must admit that I thought Clem was being a drama llama at times, and I was yelling at my book, “JUST BE HONEST AND TELL THEM ALL OF THE THINGS.” Other than that, she was a great main character. I also loved her family, especially her little sister, Olive. And, once again, a swoon-worthy love interest named James. He has red hair and ocean eyes. Even though his life is not perfect at all, he’s always laughing and doesn’t let things get to him. He radiates positivity and smiles. Sounds like the perfect guy, right? That’s what I thought.
Also, I pictured James as red-haired Charlie McDonnell throughout the whole book. I regret nothing.
The group of friends Clem has in the flashbacks has definitely made it to my Favourite Fictional Friends list. They did scavenger hunts and had to find things like Ethan’s holiday-themed boxers, an official traffic cone, a size-6 vintage ladies shoe… That sounds like such a fun thing to do with friends! And I love Clem’s and Ethan’s relationship, even though it was kind of messed up. I love how well they fit together, and wondered why Ethan was even (still) with Amanda in the first place. Eventually, though, I’m glad that Ethan is not who Clementine ended up with.
The whole book reminded me a lot of myself and my childhood on our boat with my family. I can relate to all the parts about being stuck on a boat with your parents and sibling, how sometimes it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes you just want to yell at everyone and throw crackers across the deck in your frustration. It was very realistically written.
Unbreak My Heart is a super cute love story, and a fantastic contemporary that you should definitely add to your to-read list. (less)
The only reason why I was able to get this before it came out was because it was available for everyone on NetGalley, which is always nice. I was very excited to get started on my very first Review For Publisher (kind of)!
The Summer My Life Began is the cute, summer-y contemporary romance you’d expect it to be from the title & cover. I liked it, but it was way too predictable. I’m not usually that person who knows at the beginning of a Law and Order episode who the killer was and what the murder weapon was, so it felt weird to already know what was going to happen. Towards the end, it gets a lot better though, when the whole family secret Em so desperately wanted to find out about, gets out. I did not expect that! (Well, I did, maybe a little.)
I quite liked Elizabeth Margaret, or Em—she is one of those rare characters that have passion & ambition, and that’s one thing that I absolutely love in books. The only characters I didn’t like were Em’s parents and grandmother. They were so strict, and they didn’t treat her like an equal at all. She wasn’t even allowed to do the things she likes most, like cooking. I totally understand that she wanted to leave. While reading the book, I kept wishing for her to choose for herself, instead of listening to her mother and grandmother all the time. I swear, if I were her, I would’ve given them the finger much, much sooner.
I loved all the other characters—Cade, Frederick, Domino, Gwenny, Tilly… I can’t even tell you which one I liked more, because they were all such good characters.
I could totally feel the atmosphere of a warm summer day, which is good. I also liked how the author described things, but you’ll be able to read one of those parts in the excerpt I put under my review. ^-^ The whole book reminded me an awful lot of Sarah Dessen’s Last Chance. This one was better though, in my opinion.
Overall, The Summer My Life Began is a cute read for a day at the beach, but not one of those spectacular books that you will remember for a long time. Don’t get me wrong though—I think it’s totally worth reading. (It’s just one of those love-or-hate books. You either love it, or hate it.)(less)