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When Reason Breaks

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  996 ratings  ·  223 reviews
13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Bot
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  996 ratings  ·  223 reviews

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I never trust the ratings of books that feature sensitive topics because I feel that readers often bump up their reviews for fear of insulting anyone. While I appreciate authors writing about harder materials, I don't think that warrants an automatic star bump.

This novel did not work for me, I feel that when it comes to addressing depression in a novel, especially a YA novel, it can easily turn into an unintended parody. I personally suffer from depression, yet the suicidal character inspired n
Erin Lynn
Originally reviewed on The Hardcover Lover.

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez is an ambitious YA novel with a very intriguing concept. As an English teacher and lover of literature, I was immediately drawn to this book at the mention of Emily Dickinson. Then I made the E.D. connection. Two girls - Emily Delgado and Elizabeth Davis - share their initials with Emily Dickinson. Cool, right? Of course it's cool!

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love this book. I loved the concept, but I felt l
Kerry Cerra
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I had the pleasure of reading this ARC as part of the Fearless Fifteeners' tour. I'm incredibly impressed by the plot and pacing of this novel. While it's not a thriller, it's definitely a page-turner. It took a few chapters to really grasp the story (which is done intentionally, as the characters are so similar), but I found it heartbreaking and, yet, full of hope, too.

There are many books out there the deal with suicide, but this one tackled the subject in an authentic and gripping story with
Jen Ryland
Mar 29, 2015 added it
Shelves: march-2015
Important topic and I've always been a big fan of Emily Dickinson!

The story follows two different girls with a multitude of issues and relationships and because there was so much going on, some of the issues and subplots felt a bit underdeveloped to me. Then there was the incorporation of some Emily Dickinson poetry and biographical elements (in the afterword, the author explains how different elements of the book were inspired by different aspects of Dickinson's life.) For me as a reader, it wa
Lee Kelly
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in about 2-3 sittings, which is unprecedented for me -- others have noted the swift thriller-like pacing which I found to be incredibly true. There's such a depth and emotional impact to the story, the characters are all fully realized and the ending just guts you -- it had me in tears. The clever ties to the life and turmoil of Emily Dickinson are just a bonus -- this is a standout and standalone story of friendship, identity and preservation. Highly recommend. ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I requested this book strictly off of seeing the comparison to "13 Reasons Why". I haven't read a lot of poetry by Emily Dickinson, so I was especially curious.

Emily and Elizabeth are both interesting. They're both struggling for different reasons and find a sort of connection through an English assignment. There were some great secondary characters and a few I didn't care for, but it makes sense in the story.

The anonymous letter writing was a great way to keep me guessing who was going to att
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Please visit What Sarah Read for this review and more!

I went into this book expecting to be thoroughly depressed and ,to be honest, this kind of story is not normally one I read. But something about the summary spoke to me and I decide to give it a try. I’m so happy that I did because this book was so beautiful. Yes, it was sad and definitely had its moments where I felt so upset for the characters, but when I finished the last page I was left with such a sense of hope. Hope for life, that it ca
Gray Cox
May 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ewwwww, dnf
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
The book starts off with one girl attempting suicide, and the reader has no idea which of the two main characters it was. From the start, you know that this book will be dealing with some heavy issues.

What Worked for Me:

I felt that the mental health piece was appropriately portrayed, and that the aftermath was dealt with well too.
There were many relationships playing out during the book. We get to see romantic relationships, familial relationships, and platonic friendships all evolving
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Warning: This review/book could be a Trigger for depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide, etc. Please read with caution.

When Reason Breaks was a heart-wrenching, realistic portrayal of two girls fighting to stay in control of their lives while battling depression. This book pulled me in from the very first page and refused to let me go until the very last page. My emotions were all over the board with this book - I laughed a few times, grinned like an idiot a few times and, of course, cried f
Miranda Lynn
For some reason, this seems to have become the year of "suicide" in YA Contemporary fiction. I've read at least 5 books since the start of 2015 on this topic, and I honestly have to say that I'm getting a little tired of it. I like this theme in general, but it's all getting to be a little much for me! But, having said that, When Reason Breaks is easily my favorite "suicide book" of 2015 so far!

This book is centered around two teenage girls, both named Emily (one of whom is nicknamed "Elizabeth
 Megan • Reading Books Like a Boss (book blog)

When Reason Breaks is Cindy L. Rodriguez's debut novel and I have to say that I really enjoyed this heartbreaking young adult novel.. Rodriguez's sheds light on a dark topic and the delicacy by which she does is admirable. Weaving in bits of Emily Dickinson's life and poetry while simultaneously telling the story of two troubled teen girls, Rodriguez delivers a good young adult debut.

Emily "Elizabeth" Davis and Emily Delgado are both very different from each other. They have different friend
Jaime Arkin
I’m always a bit leery about reading stories in this genre, sometimes they are incredibly heavy, and horribly depressing and if I’m being honest, I prefer to stay away from those for personal reasons. That said, I still wanted to give this a try. There was just something about the summary that intrigued me… maybe it was the idea of weaving the poetry of Emily Dickinson into it, I’ve never been much of a poetry reader, and I don’t know much of her stuff so I thought this might be an interesting w ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, 2015
Did Emily Dickinson pull away from the world because it was easier and safer to hide than face it all? Or did something inside of her crack? Was something really wrong with her, the way something was really wrong with me? No one seems to know for sure about her. No one really knew about me.

Un buen libro. Entretenido y en parte conmovedor. Aunque he estado leyendo varios libros del mismo tipo, éste ha sido el más aceptable. Sin embargo, sigo pensando que estos autores no terminan de utilizar
This one is complicated, especially because no matter what I say, it'll be spoiler-y. So be forwarned.


This story features two Latina main characters struggling with depression. The biggest pro is their depression manifests SO differently, and it's utterly refreshing to see that. We have Elizabeth, who wears depression out loud and who people assume has an issue because of that. Then we have Emily, whose depression eats away at her from the inside. It's quiet and insidious, and people would
Liza Wiemer
WHEN REASON BREAKS is a deeply moving story that addresses the issues of depression and suicide. Teacher Ms. Diaz introduces her students to Emily Dickinson, and her poetry has a tremendous influence on the characters in this novel. Emotionally charged issues of true friendship, dating, sex, and betrayal combined with overpowering parents for one character and a parent grieving from her divorce for another, impact this story.

Beautifully written, people will feel Elizabeth's anger and Emily's st
carolina ☾
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Elizabeth, you're such an awesome character i want to hug but you'd probably punch me if i did.
I loved her as a character and i felt like i could connect to her, and a little with Emily too. i thought this book was Elizabeth's story but it was more like Emily's story through Elizabeth's eyes. It felt realistic to me.
Nidah (SleepDreamWrite)
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Second book I read that had poems and Emily Dickinson part of the story. The first being the book, And We Stay. This sounded interesting. You have two girls. One of them tries to kill herself. As the story goes along, you wonder who it'll be and what led up to it. I kind figured it out, what with one of them mentions something and then it gets mentioned later again. The writing was good though. ...more
Sandra Waugh
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sensitive, moving, well-crafted. A must for teen book clubs
Melody Maysonet
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A moving story that left me teary-eyed.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Ok! I cried! So?!? :-(
Jess at Such a Novel Idea
This review originally appeared at Such a Novel Idea.

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It does not affect the outcome of my opinion in any way.

When I see a three star review, it can be as widely varied as "really liked" to "really didn't like". Three stars is that weird in-between middle child of the reviewing world. And so, I typically tend to avoid it. I like to stable my opinion on one side of the fence or the other. But this book is one that I tru
Polly Roth
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars

I think most of my issues with the book are because I just don't vibe with most YA anymore. Especially at the beginning, the characters were too eye-roll inducing. That being said, I do think this book can be critiqued for its ending. The author wraps everything up too nicely for the subject matter. But it's still an emotional story that gets its message across.

Also...maybe my high school experience was different, but the way these teens used social media was laughable to me. Seemed ver
When Reason Breaks was an intense read for me. It had my emotions all over the place and that's one of the main things I liked about the story. It made me think. A lot. For instance, I was so sure about which girl would reach her breaking point and decide to end her life, but I certainly had a wake up when I realized that I was judging based on stereotypes. Sure, that character seemed the most likely to commit suicide, and with the way she dealt with her feelings of anger throughout the book, it ...more
Tee loves Kyle Jacobson
When Reason Breaks is an amazing story. While I was reading I had this picture in my head of a goth girl wearing all black and being all moody sitting in an English class. I kept laughing to myself and thinking back to my English classes and the people that were in them and I remember this one girl she was a mix of goth and the clown posse and lord everyday she would come in so depressed and sad that I would wonder what was wrong with her. She brought the mood down in the class.

I also love poetr
Sarah (Head Stuck In A Book)
When Reason Breaks is a heartbreaking novel about two girls who are each harboring feelings of pain and depression, but the face they show to the outside world is markedly different.

So much so for one girl who believes the only way to handle it is to end her life and put herself out of her misery, and this is how the book begins, we see a girl as she's lying close to death, will someone arrive in time or will it be too late?

What's interesting about this book is the way it's set up with the story
Brandi Kosiner
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it

I wanted to read When Reason Breaks because mental illness and thoughts of suicide are an issue that is close to my heart. I deal with my own depression and thoughts as well as losing my dad. Books like this are so important to help people understand at least a little bit, and see the power that a kind word, or actually taking the time to care about and listen to someone can be such a big thing.

I could tell this is going to be an emotional one. Elizabeth is one of our main characters and we a
Book Riot Community
This year is jam-packed with YA books where characters are struggling with depression that manifests into suicidal thoughts or behaviors. In many — all, maybe — of them this year, there’s a weird anti-medication stance within them and little challenging that philosophy. While Rodriguez’s story also falls a bit into this category, she successfully overcomes bringing down the story with it by offering two very different perspectives of what depression looks and feels like. We get more than one nar ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Two very different girls battle emotional pain and contemplate Emily Dickinson's poetry. I'll admit that I wasn't completely invested in this book until the last twenty percent. The narrative is initially confusing in an ebook format, and you have to pay attention to chapter headings carefully -- the two narrators, Emily and Elizabeth, switch off chapters, but even their names caused me a lot of tro ...more
Jen Brooks
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A sensitive and heart-breaking look at two teens struggling with depression that manifests itself in different ways. Emily Delgado withdraws while Elizabeth Davis acts out. The two opposite-seeming girls are drawn together partly because the boys they love are friends themselves, and partly because they share a literary interest in Emily Dickinson’s poetry as the result of a shared English class and its dedicated teacher. The book opens with the attempted suicide of one of the girls, but her ide ...more
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Hi! I’m Cindy L. Rodriguez. My YA novel is WHEN REASON BREAKS (Bloomsbury 2015). I have an essay in LIFE INSIDE MY MIND: 31 AUTHORS SHARE THEIR PERSONAL STRUGGLES (Simon Pulse 2018), and I have contributed to DOLL HOSPITAL #2. I have also written the text for VOLLEYBALL ACE (2020) and DRILL TEAM DETERMINATION (2021). Both are Jake Maddox JV Girls books by Stone Arch Books. I teach middle school re ...more

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