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Beautiful Broken Things

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I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

322 pages, Paperback

First published February 11, 2016

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,170 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
December 23, 2015
"Not that I'm complaining, but my life up to the age of sixteen had been steady and unblemished. My parents were still married, my best friend had been constant for over ten years, I'd never been seriously ill and no one close to me had died."

This book should have been right up my alley. It's British YA about the jealousies, passions and conflicts involved in teen girl friendships. I love books that explore this subject - the way teenage girls get so wrapped up in one another, loving and hating each other with a furious intensity. Authors like Leah Raeder and Courtney Summers understand and capture this world perfectly.

But I had so many problems with Beautiful Broken Things. Firstly, I pretty much despised the narrator - Caddy - and never really came to like or understand any of the characters or their actions. Though, even if we take that matter out for a second, this book lacked a compelling spark that books like The Girls of No Return had. If I hadn't been pushed onward by the other positive ratings, I'm sure I would have DNFed it.

Let's start with Caddy. My dislike for her was almost instantaneous and I found her increasingly unsympathetic. Selfish, jealous, unlikable characters can be very interesting but I draw the line at bratty rich girls who feel sorry for themselves because... um, they've never had a tragedy happen to them.

Caddy - literally, I am not exaggerating - pities herself because she is uninteresting. She - again, literally - compares herself negatively to Rosie and Tarin because Rosie's dad walked out and her baby sister died, and Tarin is bipolar. She is jealous because her life is so boring compared to death and mental illness. I almost put the book down right then.

I'm sorry, but how dare she claim that losing a sister and being mentally ill makes them more interesting? My only hope was that she was going to learn some hard lessons as the book progressed.

Then we get the spiel of how hard it is for her with wealthy, boring parents and the fact that she has to attend a private school and *gasp* wear an ugly uniform. Oh please, am I honestly supposed to feel sorry for her?

And then we get to the crux of the story - her best friend, Rosie, has a new friend called Suzanne and tries to get them to all hang out together. I understand why this would trigger jealousy and fear of losing her friend, but one minute Caddy is whining inwardly because she feels left out, and the next she refuses Rosie and Suzanne's invitation to a party and lies on the bed reading a magazine and ignoring them when they're all supposed to be hanging out together.

Also, Caddy is just such a petty, silly person:
"You should come next time. When you don't have your Service thing the next day." Her face was open and friendly, but I felt a surge of annoyance. Why did she get to be the one inviting me places? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Plus, she is mean. As it turns out, Suzanne has a dark past she's running from and Caddy reads a comment on her Facebook page about something in Coronation Street and "triggers" and "trigger warnings", which she then looks up. Despite knowing that triggers are things that can trigger traumatic memories, Caddy deliberately asks about Coronation Street in front of Suzanne. If she simply had to know, couldn't she ask when Suzanne wasn't there? Or read a soap magazine, which contains all the major storylines?

Then, later, she leaves her drunk friend at a party without even telling her she's leaving... I just had real problems with this girl. I did not like her one bit.

Caddy aside, there still weren't really any characters I could like or care about. Suzanne was the most sympathetic, but I grew tired of her selfish actions eventually. Rosie was a slut-shaming brat. All the parents and parental figures kind of sucked at parenting. And I honestly am so confused why Suzanne's aunt thought that it was not only acceptable to encourage Suzanne to return to an abusive home situation, but also acceptable to act like she's a burden and unreasonable when - surprise! - she doesn't want to go back to the man who hit her for years.

I appreciate the intent behind the book, but I couldn't care about these characters. I was rolling my eyes or being pissed off on almost every page. Two stars for some nice writing and a few interesting scenes.

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Profile Image for Sara.
Author 11 books979 followers
July 13, 2016
What's the etiquette for rating your own book?

Thought it was pretty good, yeah...
Profile Image for prag ♻.
588 reviews587 followers
December 15, 2016
happy. lovely. carefree.

sad. defeated. lost.

caddy. rosie. suzanne.

I was brave.
dull, nice caddy, interesting at last. interesting enough, fun enough to be spontaneous. to go out in the middle of night, and just talk to her best friend. isn't that what everybody wants to be? isn't that what being on the edge of 16 is like?

She was reckless
abused. fubar. lashing out. the only out suzie knew was to be different. to not be herself. to be free from the pain. but was she holding caddy down?

We were trouble
Rosie, Suzie, Caddie: a duo. then a trio. back to a duo. could they ever just be? who was wrong, who was right?

I hated Caddy, but I got her. The plot annoyed me, but I understood it. I felt the characters. It was a very strong portrayal of the depth, the strength of friendships, and I loved it.
Profile Image for Alice Oseman.
Author 66 books70k followers
April 28, 2015
BEAUTIFUL BROKEN THINGS is a book that the YA world desperately needs - a book about the beauty, passion and extremities of female friendship. Barnard perfectly captures the drama and chaotic emotions that contemporary girls experience in their teens and presents the reader with three complex protagonists whose relationships are built up and torn apart without reservation. BBT is a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel free of cliché, and I have not read a book in a long time that so accurately portrays teen girl friendships.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews675 followers
August 13, 2019
“When I’d heard ‘abuse’, I’d thought of violence as being something simple... I hadn’t even considered the framework that allowed it to happen in the first place. The blind eyes turned, the excuses made, the insidious lies whispered into the ear of a child so desperate for love they mistook a gentle tone for truth.”

The last thing I’d expected when starting this book was to relate to Suzanne. But I do. So much.

“It’s total bullshit. I hate it when people make sadness all deep and beautiful and, like, profound. It’s not profound. It’s not beautiful. It sucks. It sucks balls.

I can actually see myself in her and I don’t know how to feel about that. Because she’s kinda unstable and fragile and her moods seem to always be in whiplash mode... But she also said all the things that I wanted to say. And she had these thoughts that like they were linked straight from my brain.

“It’s true that but it’s not better. Nothing was fixed. No one talked about what had happened, no one said sorry... And the more it went on, the worse it felt. It was like the only difference was that everyone was on eggshells around me, like it was my fault.”

You know what’s worse than the abuse it self in this case?? The discrimination. When you have two kids but only one bare the burnt of your abuse?? That shit fucks you up FOR LIFE! You’ll always be questioning yourself, seeking validation every which way you can and it’s one big pervasive, never-ending path. And honestly, quite useless. SHIT!

”He misses me being this little kid who didn’t realize how bad it actually was. Because you don’t, when you’re a kid. It’s just your normal.”

I’m exhausted by the time I turned the last page, so Bravo to Sara Barnard to get the complicated and fuckup mind of a discriminated, abused daughter so right. Thank you.

Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
July 4, 2017
5 Words: Friendship, abuse, rebellion, school, family.

Well, that was pretty heartbreaking.

When I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think that I was reading something significant. This isn't your usual story about teen romance. Instead it's about all of the trials and tribulations of friendship. And that friendship was so real, so complicated, that I couldn't help but smile and laugh and cry along with the ups and downs.

The lack of romance in this book was refreshing. The head-on tackle of mental illness and various social stigmas was outstanding. Overall it was a fantastic read, and I couldn't put it down.

I loved how friendship and family was explored, how rebellion reared its head and was dealt with.

I received a copy of this for free via NetGalley for review purposes.
Profile Image for Holly Bourne.
Author 26 books5,435 followers
September 13, 2015
This book is exquisite, and exactly what YA needs. Books about female friendships! I still can't get over how REAL this story was, every single part of it was perfectly realised. It was so sophisticated in how it was written, with beautiful BEAUTIFUL prose, and yet it never once dragged and I raced through it. It deals with difficult topics with sensitivity and humour, and doesn't once patronise the subjects it tackles. I am so excited to see what Sara writes next. This author is one to watch!
Profile Image for Sue.
2,691 reviews170 followers
February 13, 2016

You know when you start one of those books that you just know, you have an inner gut feeling "This is gonna be a good 'un?"
Well, let me tell you, this surely is.

This brings out emotions in you constantly from laughter to tears of sadness.

The main characters are Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne.
You know or remember, those feelings you had as a teenager, wanting, no...needing to be accepted by your peers. Wanting everyone to 'like' you.
All those confusing thoughts that go on inside your head and worrying about what others might think. Well, this is a story unlike any other I have read lately as its not a romance in the true sense of this. This is about mental health, this is about family, this is about friendship.

What happens when a best buddy breaks your heart?
Follow it, sense it, live it. It will make you cry.

Beautifully written and a fabulous debut novel from this author.
I cannot wait to see what else she writes.

*My thanks to Pan Macmillan via Net Galley for my copy to read and review*
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews990 followers
November 6, 2015
Beautiful Broken Things was a gorgeous read – totally heartbreaking, totally heartwarming, happy, sad and all the things inbetween. Yep up and down like a yo-yo I was during the reading of this one. And boy did I cry great big fat tears at the end. I’m going to miss Caddy, Rosie, Suzanne et al.

Caddy and Rosie have been friends forever – despite going to different schools they have their own rhymes and rhythms and know each other inside and out. Enter new girl Suzanne – Rosie introduces her into the mix and things start to change – Suzanne is bold, beautiful and funny but also damaged – and Caddy gets caught up in it all in unexpected ways.

The theme of female teenage relationships is examined within “Beautiful Broken Things” as are the subjects of mental health and abusive situations. Sara Barnard captures it all pitch perfectly in a deeply engaging character study with some wonderfully resonant prose that enthralls – these girls, their changing relationships and challenges upon each other are absolutely authentic and absolutely absorbing. I simply could not put it down. I went through the entire emotional spectrum whilst reading it and came away with a sense of both melancholy and happiness, in fact I’d find it hard to separate one from the other right now.

The author herself in her notes afterwards calls it “A love story without a romance” and that is spot on – it is a tale of the deepest friendships we know – the mutual support and sometimes, even if not intentional, the more destructive fallout of feeling things so deeply at a time we can be impulsive. It shows us aftermath and consequences and is probably one of the most intense yet realistic stories I have read that speaks to mental health issues in young adults. Suzanne is an incredible character, deeply sympathetic – also in a lot of ways unlikeable yet you would want to know her. Rosie and Caddy’s deep seated friendship is truly a beautiful one that you absolutely believe in and even as the foundations falter you sense that it will never fall.

Overall this was a simply remarkable story – full of heart and soul and with characters that will remain with you, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
534 reviews652 followers
November 21, 2018
*3/5 stars*

“People we love come and go, Caddy. That doesn’t mean we loved them any less at the time.”

Definitely didn't love this one quite as much as A Quiet Kinf of Thunder, but still a great contemporary book. My main problem is that I read this book in the wrong time and didn't read the annotation before picking it up. I thought it would be light and cute book with few heavier topics, but still a light read like the author's second book. And it was not. It was darker than I anticipated. This book deals with some heavy topics - in a great and realistic way though - and while I was not in similar situation to Suzanne's, it brough some bad memories for me at time I didn't need them to. In a strange way, while my personality is very very different from Suzanne's, I do have some things here and there in common with her. I'm glad I read this book and I was 100% satisfied with the ending, though for a minute there I was afraid it would end... in a way that would make me mad. So I'm really glad the author ended things as she did, loose as they may seem for some readers. I also loved the female friendship and the fact that this book was a love story, but not the romantic kind. I thought that all the friendships here were realistic. Both light and dark. There was no romance here and I'm glad because it wouldn't fit the story.
I've read in a few reviews saying that this book would've been better if it was told from Suzanne's point of view instead of Caddy's. And while I agree Suzanne was WAY better character than Caddy (I actually didn't always like Caddy all that much), I'm glad the author chose this narrative. It's basically told (more or less) from an observer's point of view, from a girl who is more on the sidelines of the story. So while the story is from Caddy's POV, it still most of the time feels like it's about Suzanne. And there's no denying that she's the best character of the book.
Caddy on the other hand, I had kind of like-meh-hate relationship with.
I don't mind the fact that she's naive all that much, I actually like when MC starts out as naive and grows through the story, learns some lessons, if it's done well. But, there was something about the stark contrast between Caddy and Suzanne that bothered me sometimes. Caddy was great friend to her most of the times (not always), yes, but she also didn't understand Suzanne at all. Sometimes I was just shaking my head as to 'how could she not get her that much'. She was supportive, but her priviledged life made her decidedly not understand any of the things Suzanne was dealing with.
One minute I was kinda liking her, and the next she proves how much of a shelterd and privileged life she led before Suzanne. At times it felt like she was this rich girl treating Suzanne as this big adventure, not understanding her isssues. Suzanne was going through this big thing, and yet it felt to me like Caddy (sometimes) whined about how nothing 'Significant' happened to her and how 'boring' that makes her. No matter how naive she was, she should've been fucking grateful that no tragedy happened in her 16 years of life and not whine about it.

But in the end I wouldn't change anything about how this book was told (only Cady's personality a little). It was a great debut which I will maybe pick up at a better time again to appreciate it more than I can now and maybe I will give it higher rating then.

Trigger Warnings: Focus on a side character abused by a family member in the past.
Profile Image for Lia.
340 reviews93 followers
January 1, 2018
The first thing that started to annoy me was Caddy’s (who the hell calls their kid Cadnam btw??) mild obsession with wanting a boyfriend and losing her virginity. She’s sixteen… and her friends all seem to agree on this fact. But this aside, Caddy was a nice character. But that’s pretty much all there is about her: she’s nice. There’s nothing wrong with that persé. But I also didn’t like any of the other characters. They all seemed to have one ‘main thing’, Caddy was the nice one, Suzanne was the messed up new kid, Rosie was the best friend. Rosie was annoying. She was jealous or angry constantly and if Rosie wasn’t jealous of Caddy or angry at her, Caddy was jealous of Rosie. Their friendship was fun, but there were so many times I just didn’t like the way they acted around each other.

“I was sixteen, and I honestly believed I was due a love story.”

Another thing that I started to notice quite soon is how there is barely any plot. The plot can be described in literally one sentence if I wanted. The plot that was actually there was with Suzanne. But we don’t get to see much about what goes on in her head! No, we have to stick to her quite boring (not in a bad way) friend. Suzanne is dealing with the aftermath of domestic abuse, which is a big part of the story (or actually, the only part of the story, because that’s literally all that’s interesting). And we get to see the dynamics between Rosie, Caddy and Suzanne which revolves a lot around Suzanne.

“But people we love come and go, Caddy. That doesn’t mean we loved them any less at the time.”

Throughout the story, Caddy develops as a character but I wouldn’t exactly say it was a good development. She started taking risks, but not really good ones if you ask me. What did annoy me was how this change in character somehow was portrayed as good. She was sneaking out of her house to (illegally) climb on abandoned buildings, she went on a train to someplace far away and didn’t even inform her parents, she smoked drugs with strangers. I don’t know in what world that would be considered good. Anyway, I’m not here to judge the morality of the characters but they were acting a bit immature and reckless.

“Even when you see it coming, there’s no avoiding the inevitable.”

This review wasn’t supposed to be as ranty as it is but once I started I couldn’t stop. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t enjoy this book, and I honestly already can’t remember any reasons why I did like it. Anyway, I’m giving this book 2 stars (with a little pain in my heart) because of the aforementioned reasons. I think they say enough. Maybe I’m too old for this book, or maybe it just really wasn’t good. I don’t know.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,421 followers
November 23, 2018
First Read: January 2017, Rating: 4 Stars
Second Read: November 2018, Rating: 4 Stars

My poor heart!

This is the story of best friends Caddy and Rosie and what happens to their friendship when their ranks are infiltrated by new girl Suzanne. She is rebellious and restless. She is erratic and emotional. She is trouble and troubled. She promises the lives and friendships of all those around her will never be the same again.

On the surface, this seems a deceptively shallow and fluffy read. I had wrongly assumed the emphasis would be on boy drama and an overdose of teenage angst. In reality, this is actually a tragic and endearing account of how life progresses after a traumatic episode in someone's life.

Although not kosher, the teenagers differing responses to their friend's mysterious, traumatic past represents reality. They are just as unsure of how to react and respond as she is as unsure of how to process and confront, leading this to be a very painful and poignant read.

Caddy, our protagonist, is just a bystander to the trauma endured by new friend Suzanne, which just highlights the devastating fallout that plagues an individual with a tragic past. Just because their initial pain has passed, it doesn't mean their lives return to normality. There is an important message here and how Barnard chose to tackle the social stigma relating to mental illness and a troubled past was outstanding. She handled these heart-rending subject matters, and the individuals suffering from them everyday, justice and relayed an important and profound message in the process - you are not alone.
Profile Image for Katie ♡.
237 reviews92 followers
January 1, 2017
Wow... I just need some time to get it all in. This is such a heartbreaking yet beautiful writing, just like what the name has shown us: "Beautiful Broken Things".
It's a really brilliant story about true friendship and a lot of healings even though things get all messed up and in the end, we all realise how our best friends are, always coming back for us as they truly love who we are.
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
515 reviews1,548 followers
December 23, 2018
If you're looking for books about female friendship, Beautiful Broken Things is an excellent place to start. It has one of the most honest accounts of friendship I've read so far. It tackles that intense feeling experienced when one of your best friends becomes better friends with someone else and what it's like to see your friendship falling away – and not knowing what to do about it.

Caddy and Rosie are super close until new girl Suzanne comes along. She's interesting and fun and beautiful. Caddy is suspicious of her until she finds out something from Suzanne's past that no one else knows. As Suzanne opens up, Caddy finds herself drawn to this fascinating person who's so different to herself – more daring, more fun, more exciting.

Beautiful Broken Things is difficult to read at times – Suzanne's mental health and the things she's experienced are horrendous. And at times it's tricky to like Caddy as a character, with her comparably easy life of private school and zero Significant Life Events. And yet there are many people out there who haven't had something traumatic happen to them but struggle through life all the same; feeling the pressure of society, parental expectation and their own self-criticism. Beautiful Broken Things shows what happens when Caddy and Suzanne are convinced they need each other – and who's to say they don't?

Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,439 followers
February 8, 2017
An absolutely stunning debut by an exciting new author. I was swept up in the lives of Caddy, Suzanne and Rosie from the very first page. Stories about female friendships are hard to come by, especially ones with no romance, but Beautiful Broken Things fills that gap in an intensely compelling and passionate way.

Caddy is jealous of Suzanne, the new girl who seems to be taking her best friend Rosie away from her. But this jealously ends up taking them all places they weren't expecting, when Suzanne's past has an effect on the lives of everyone around her.

If you've ever felt like your friendships were all you lived for, and something that was destroying you all at the same time, then this is the book for you. Suzanne and Caddy and Rosie will be in my mind for a long time, as examples of how deeply passionate and intense platonic friendships can be, especially for a teenager.
I can't recommend this book enough, and I'm so excited for everyone else to read this stunning debut.

And if that isn't enough to excite your interest, check out this gorgeous fanart by Alice Oseman:
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
February 14, 2020
3.75 stars

I’ve already read and liked one other book by the author, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, so I thought this was a perfectly safe pick and it says at the back of the book “For fans of Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen” and it was quite an accurate description. It had that comfortable, warm tone of Sarah Dessen’s novels and the familiar theme of genuine friendship in Morgan Matson’s books.

What I liked about Fragile Like Us is its honesty and accuracy in depicting the friendship of the three girls- Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne. The girls have different personalities which just make their friendship more believable and relatable. Originally, it was only Caddy and Rosie, best friends since they were little kids and then came the ‘troubled Suze’ and the balance gets uneven. The nice Caddy finally gets the “significant life event” she was longing for except it actually involved literally risking her life.

More than the story of friendship, the book also highlights abuse and consequently mental health in the character of Suze. Plot-wise, it isn’t really engaging or adventurous but the story’s significance isn’t diminished. I still feel quite connected and interested and if the author is able to hold the reader’s attention that way, she’s definitely something.
Profile Image for Lexie.
222 reviews196 followers
June 5, 2016
Hm. Not sure how to feel about this book. I didn't particularly enjoy reading it, but I felt it was important to read it.

Then again, we tend to feel similarly about regular dentist visits. Thus the three stars.

I will say - definitively and without a doubt - that Beautitul Broken Things doesn't feel like a debut. It felt, for all intents and purposes, like the twentieth book written by an established, confident, insightful author.

Then again, we tend to say the same thing about academic studies. Thus the three stars.

Mostly, however, Beautiful Broken Things felt like an impactful, beautiful, messy and wholly real story about friendship dynamics in adolescence - the kind that resonate with most of us on some level. Troubling though these dynamics became, many of us were some version of Caddy or Suz or Rosie at 15-16, and many of us have our own versions of their tales to tell.

Then again, I did feel like their particular overarching tale was told from what was potentially a wrong point of view - and one whose particular story arc was left maddeningly unfinished, and most of its issues unaddressed.

Thus the three stars.
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
April 5, 2016
I'm a strong advocate for female friendships being represented in young adult novels, but this isn't what I had in mind. Beautiful Broken Things irritated me and I feel this is one book focused on the female teen friendships that readers could have done without.

The storyline is told through the eyes of Caddy, a wealthy private school student who's only complaint is that her life isn't interesting and her school uniform is hideous. She has two parents who care for her, she wants for nothing but yet compares herself to her older sister Tarin who is bipolar and best friend Rosie, having lost her infant sister and her father walking out on his family shortly thereafter.

'They're just horrible things that happened Cads. They don't make me more interesting than you.' But the thing was, they did.

For a girl who's supposedly intelligent, I'm not buying her excuse for a storyline. She was vapid, but she made no effort whatsoever to change her circumstances up until then. She envied her best friend Rosie with a jealously that set the tone for Beautiful Broken Things, and the storyline went downhill from there.

Her goals were to find a boyfriend, lose her virginity and experience a significant life event. Apparently being validated by male attention makes life more interesting. Who knew. So when new girl Suzanne arrives at the local public school where Rosie attends, the claws come out as Caddy is now feeling as though she's the third wheel. I can understand why she felt as though she was on the outer, she and Rosie have been best friends for over ten years and the new girl has impacted on their friendship. But Suzanne was lovely, she made the effort to invite Caddy along with her and Rosie, even when Rosie seemingly seemed to drift away from Caddy in favour of the new and exciting Suzanne.

There's a reason why Suzanne moved away from her parental home and now lives with her aunt. She's the victim of family abuse and neglect and Caddy takes it upon herself to investigate Suzanne online. She uses information she found through a Facebook update as a trigger, perhaps to embarrass the teen or as an act of revenge towards the girl who she felt had replaced her. It was so incredibly cruel and was used as a turning point for Caddy and Suzanne to become friends.

The crux of the stoyyline was the toxic and enabled friendship between the three girls, but especially that between Caddy and Suzanne. I liked Suzanne's character. She was multilayered and complex but needed a positive peer influence in her life. Unfortunately Caddy was not that influence.

Rosie begun to distance herself from Suzanne's erratic behavior, just when she needed a support network more than ever. She wasn't above slut shaming Suzanne for what seemed to be a casual sexual relationship while Caddy seized the opportunity to enable Suzanne, seeing her as little more than a fast track to making her life more interesting. It's made clear that Suzanne is using her bravado to cover up that she's unwell. She's been through an incredible amount of abusive trauma at the hands of her parents and needed professional intervention. But Caddy was toxic, both in her manipulation and enabling of Suzanne to push her further. I can't remember having loathed a character as much as Caddy before.

It was well written, which is in no way a criticism of the author herself, it was the storyline which I found troublesome and painted teen girls as such a fickle, toxic and dangerous beings.

Beautiful Broken Things just annoyed me. I just didn't feel anything for the characters seeing the storyline through the eyes of Caddy. She felt like a self entitled girl who latched onto Suzanne because she had a preconceived notion of what Suzanne was, a girl who chases fun and freedom when in fact, she was a broken soul who'd suffered at the hands of abuse. It painted teen girls as fickle, toxic beings who are basically dysfunctional codependents. Caddy wasn't just an enabler, she became incredible self indulgent and used Suzanne because she was new, exciting and was a fast track to her own significant life event.

While I could relate to Suzanne's upbringing in so many ways, the storyline would have been far more engaging from her point of view. Caddy wasn't boring, but her character just felt incredibly judgemental and cruel. Even being outside of the demographic of the intended audience, it just left me feeling frustrated and lacked a learning curve I was hoping the characters would achieve.
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
626 reviews302 followers
June 7, 2018
A beautiful book that broke my heart, caused 1am ugly crying and hit too close to home on multiple occasions, Beautiful Broken Things is a story about that intense friendship you have in your teens and what happens when a best friend breaks your heart.

I’m not using my usual format to review this book because there’s so much I want to talk about.
First there’s Caddy, our main character. She’s BFF with Rosie, who goes to a different school and meets Suzanne, the new girl, and clicks with her. Wanting her two best friends to get along, Rosie introduces Caddy to Suzanne, and but doesn’t expect those two to grow as close as they do. The friendship between Caddy, Suzanne and Rosie reminded me of my own high school friendships. My childhood best friend went to a different school to me, so my high school BFF and I bonded hard, but those two girls had issues with each other they never got over, unlike Caddy and Suzanne. And oh god, the whole thing just felt so organic and real – like this is how friendships happen, this is what it’s like to love your best friend that much.

I really identified with Caddy, the ‘poor little rich girl’ who wanted more from life and was swept into this friendship with a girl who was labelled a ‘bad influence’. My mother used to tell me to ‘get a life’ which really, really hurt because I was a teenager with no money who liked to spend time by myself and read so how was I supposed to find this ‘life’? (In hindsight this might be why I moved to England, so that I’d have a ‘significant life event’ like what Caddy wanted). And I really identified with being the ‘good girl’ and having parents who had high expectations – an A grade wasn’t good enough, as my mother said to me last Christmas: “I wish I’d pushed you harder in school.” I turned to her in shock and said, “I was a straight A student, what more did you want from me?!”

Caddy makes mistakes. Those mistakes end up bringing her closer to Suzanne: asking about a Coronation Street episode that she knew was triggering to Suzanne, and then later, when they’re friends, leaving Rosie drunk at a party to take shitfaced Suzanne home. Bad choices. Mistakes. Conflict. Caddy is a teenager and she’s not equipped to make the right choices. As much as I identified with Caddy, I never made those choices as a teen, but I certainly could understand why she chose to.

One of the saddest and most realistic things I found in the book was when Suzanne’s aunt wanted Suzanne to go back to her parents for Christmas. By now the physical abuse Suzanne suffered from her dad (not a spoiler, revealed quite early on) is out in the open and Suzanne’s expected to just sweep it all under the rug and play happy families. This broke my heart because it’s exactly the same situation my husband is in with his family. He had an abusive high-functioning alcoholic dad who beat the shit out of him, yet we’re expected to play happy families and he came to the other side of the world for our wedding and everything. It’s a situation I’ve personally experienced and seen happen to friends, and it breaks my heart. My husband had this friend whose father wouldn’t let his mother divorce him, who was abusive to the mother, and who my husband knocked out one time when he was choking her. Once again, they always kind of swept it under the carpet and played happy families.

Suzanne reminded me of my best friend in the whole world, a beautiful young woman who suffered the most horrific kind of abuse from her father, who (once again) told her mother about it and whose mother swept it under the rug (don’t fucking tell me it doesn’t fucking happen), whose father killed himself rather than go to trial for what he’d done. My best friend is a positive, bubbly, bright young woman and you’d never know about her past until she told you.

Suzanne also reminded me of a young girl I met when I lived in England who lived in a group home because of problems with her family. This girl was self-destructive and I remember having a serious talk with her about having to save money because she’d be kicked out of the group home when she turned eighteen. Suzanne was a cross between these two girls – one horrifically abused but able to speak about it quite casually, and one who continued to hurt herself because there was no one there to support her, who didn’t give a shit about consequences because what could possibly be worse than what had already happened to her? I really think that the portrayal of a troubled, mentally ill teenager was handled much better here than it was in All the Bright Places.

The sad thing about Suzanne is that her situation is so freaking common in England. When I lived there, most of our friends came from broken homes, living in council housing because parents wouldn’t/couldn’t have them or whatever. One guy lived with us for a while because his dad didn’t ‘trust’ him and forced him to sleep in the same room as him. We took in another guy who couldn’t live with his stepdad. We almost had a revolving door of these young, vulnerable people who knew they’d always have a warm bed and a hot meal at our place. See, my husband worked with this drama company that specialised in youth, and we tended to attract the youth at risk. Or maybe everyone just had a shitty home life.

Caddy found this somewhat exciting. She liked rescuing Suzanne, and she soon learned that being a good girl is boring. Caddy started sneaking out at night and letting Suzanne influence her into drinking, smoking, going to parties Caddy would normally ignore. Towards the end, when I cared a lot about what happened to the girls, . I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Was this book written specifically for me? I’d lost a friend the same way some years earlier.

I just couldn’t get over how much I recognised in this book from my time living in England or my own high school life with a best friend who ended up breaking my heart (over a boy, of all things). I think because I could identify so strongly with so many elements – the ‘boring’ main character, the abused best friend, the ineffective adults who wanted to pretend nothing was wrong, the intense friendship of teen girls – this book affected me much harder than I expected it to. I ended up sobbing into my pillow when I thought something terrible might happen to the girls, and it took all my willpower not to skip ahead and check if they were OK.

I thought that this book was beautifully written; each of the characters, even the unlikeable ones, terribly realistic; the portrayal, handling and understanding of mental illness and abuse seemed well-researched; the pace was steady and ongoing for a book more into character study than action. I absolutely adored this book and it’s one of my absolute favourites of 2016.

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Megan  (thebookishtwins).
527 reviews171 followers
February 4, 2017
I received this free from the publishers via NetGalley

DNF at 60%

Beautiful Broken Things is about two best friends – Rosie and Caddy – whose friendship have been interrupted by Suzanne, a new girl in town. Suzanne, in their eyes, is beautiful, mysterious, damaged, and exciting. Suzanne’s past slowly gets revealed, and things get complicated. Caddy loves the new trouble in her life, and she’s finally having fun.

I had a lot of high expectations of Beautiful Broken Things due to the many raving reviews about how this book has many great female relationships and catches that essence of being a teenage girl really well, of that jealousy and conflict. However, I had a lot of problems with Beautiful Broken Things which made this a really hard read for me and I really struggled to finish – hence the DNF.

Firstly, and most importantly, our narrator was extremely annoying and very unlikeable. I’m usually all for unlikeable female characters who are unapologetic, who aren’t nice, and who have flaws. However, Caddy was just downright annoying and immature. She’s a typical rich, privately educated, bratty teenage girl. She’s selfish and she’s insensitive. She feels uninteresting next to people like her best friend Rosie whose sister died, and next to her sister Tarin who is bipolar. She feels as though they are more interesting because they have had their ‘life altering’ event. Her life is boring compared to the people around her who suffer and experienced abuse, death, or mental illness. Not cool, and an incredibly bad message to put across. I can’t be sure whether the ending rectified this and she learnt her lesson because I never got that far.

There were a lot of events which I really didn’t like which showed Caddy to be a really horrible person. Leaving her best friend at a party because she didn’t want to interrupt her? That’s a big no-no. Intentionally bring up something which triggers someone because she was curious about their past? An even bigger no-no.

The pacing was incredibly slow and dull, so paired with an incredibly annoying and petty main character, I had a hard time even getting half way through this book. There were other issues I had with this book, especially when one character tried to persuade and encourage another to go back to someone abusive. I didn’t like it one bit. Like I’ve said before, I don’t know how this book resolved anything as I didn’t finish it.

Overall, not a book I would personally recommend.
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,415 reviews385 followers
February 20, 2019
This was a contemporary YA about friendships, there was no romance and it didn't need it. This friendship triangle was a subtle but delicate dance of power imbalance and loyalty. The pacing was steady as the story ebbed and flowed through drama (real not unnecessary) and steadier times.

Caddy was the protagonist and Rosie was her best friend but the story very much revolved around Suzanne, a 16 year old teen, abused and with significant psychological effects. I never understood the lack of police involvement in her past, but I was able to read past that issue. It was a powerful story, wings were spread, influences bad and good happened and the apple cart was well and truly knocked over.

This story built to a crescendo and for the last 10%, I felt like I'd been hit with a mallet. It was powerful reading and my heart had a few fissures that needed mending. I am so glad I am reading this at a time when there's a book two out, even though it has stood alone for a few years.

Sara Barnard writes from the young person's perspective so well. Her characters' feelings towards their parents and their parents' reactions are very real. I remain impressed.
Profile Image for P42.
238 reviews1,612 followers
July 5, 2017

RECENZJA FILMOWA - https://youtu.be/8Od7-TtgSqA

Dałbym 5/5, ale nie mam porównania do innych książek w tym gatunku, więc mogę przeceniać PZS :)

+ zachowania bohaterów, które znam ze swojego życia
+ porusza ważny temat/problem
+ napięcie rośnie powoli, ale prowadzi do bardzo ciekawej kulminacji
- pierwsze kilkadziesiąt stron, które trzeba przebrnąć


Profile Image for Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk).
1,412 reviews2,303 followers
July 4, 2017
Beautiful. Captivating. Painfully real. For big and bigger girls.
Piękna. Porywająca. Boleśnie prawdziwa. Opowieść o przyjaźni dla dużych i większych dziewczynek.
Profile Image for Jillian .
431 reviews1,779 followers
August 3, 2017
4.5 stars

i love books about friendships. this was really good

Profile Image for Lizzie Huxley-Jones.
Author 7 books203 followers
April 25, 2020
This is a stunning book about female friendship, the importance of boundaries, and severe mental health problems.

Caddy and Rosie have been best friends their whole lives, despite their separate schools. At the start of the school year, Rosie meets new-girl Suzanne, warm hearted with a dry humour. But Suzanne has just escaped an unsafe home life and is struggling. As the girls get closer, they see Suzanne's increasingly erratic behaviour becomes clear. Can they help her? Can they save her?

I found the representation of severe mental health issues such as self harming and suicide realistic, honest and well written. As someone with mental health problems and close friends with them too, I felt the balance of friendship, carer and knowing when to put your own oxygen mask on first so brilliantly put.

I also think Sara handled the delicately contradictory mindset of love and hate towards an abusive family life, and subtly includes key information for people on how to support friends and family who are struggling.

The novel requires trigger warnings for: self harm, suicide, domestic violence.

Thank you to @panmacmillan for sharing this copy with me.
Profile Image for Abigail.
191 reviews442 followers
June 25, 2017
Cokolwiek teraz robisz po prostu idź i powiedz swojej przyjaciółce lub przyjacielowi, ile dla Ciebie znaczy i że bardzo ją/go kochasz.

Nie zakładaj głupio, że takie rzeczy przecież doskonale wie. Bo kiedyś może być na to za późno.

Po przeczytaniu tej książki nie da się nie doceniać swojego życia i przyjaciół.
Profile Image for Chiara.
870 reviews220 followers
March 21, 2016
A copy of this novel was provided by Pan Macmillan Australia for review.

There was one main aspect of Beautiful Broken Things that I adored, and that was the fact that it was about friendship. There is so often a focus on romance in YA books, and it’s so refreshing to read about friendship, which is just as intense and important as romantic love.

The friendship between Caddy, Rosie, and Suzanne was, in a word: toxic. In the beginning, Caddy is extremely jealous of Suzanne, because she’s shiny and new and gets to see Rosie every day (Caddy and Rosie go to different schools). And then the tables turn, and Rosie is the one who is jealous of Caddie and Suzanne. I felt like this was a pretty realistic portrayal of how best friend trios can feel and interact sometimes. It reminded me of some things that I went through in high school, which was both sad and good.

The toxic part of this friendship really comes into play between Caddie and Suzanne. Caddie is convinced that she’s an extremely boring girl, and is quite desperate to be seen as daring and interesting. She believes that Suzanne is the epitome of the girl she wants to be, and tries to model herself off Suzanne a little bit. Which isn’t so much a great thing because Suzanne is doing stupid shit a lot of the time because she’s going through some serious stuff. And instead of trying to help her through all of it, Caddie almost supports her, because she thinks the stupid stuff Suzanne is doing is ~interesting~ instead of dangerous and warning signs of something a lot darker.

Suzanne was physically abused by her father (not a spoiler, by the way, it’s revealed very early on), and I really thought that this was going to turn out to be a lie. There were two reasons for why I thought this ... the first is the way Suzanne talked about it, which could be very flippant – at times, I don’t think the way conversations were written conveyed the seriousness of the topic or situation (including a part where Rosie makes a 'victim' joke). The second reason was the way it was revealed in the story. Because of these things, I kept on expecting a reveal of falsity, so when it turned out to be true, I felt a kind of disconnection to Suzanne because her experiences post-abuse hadn’t been written in a way that I felt was true to reality, or emotionally connecting.

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t care about Suzanne, because I did. Even though I was unconvinced regarding her story of her life before she moved to Brighton, I knew that there was something going on with her because of the way she was acting and talking. I think both Caddie and Rosie were pretty terrible friends in regards to this, because neither sought to help Suzanne in any kind of serious way.

Not a lot really happens in Beautiful Broken Things, except for the establishment of the relationship between Caddie and Suzanne, and how, in the end, Suzanne’s behaviour wasn’t just reckless. So if you’re not into stories solely about character relationships and development, then the pace in this one might not be for you.

If you’re a fan for a story about friendship, though, give this one a go. But take note that it certainly isn’t a happy one.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.

trigger warning: self harm, attempted suicide, child abuse, death of an infant, and hospitalisation (mental) in this novel
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