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The Science of Breakable Things

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,869 ratings  ·  400 reviews
How do you grow a miracle?
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has
173 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Random House
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Catherine The characters in this book are in seventh grade, so I would guess they are eleven or twelve years old. The book contains no sex, violence, or bad lan…moreThe characters in this book are in seventh grade, so I would guess they are eleven or twelve years old. The book contains no sex, violence, or bad language, but it does contain strong messages and underlying themes of serious issues such as depression. However, it is not explicit and I know that any twelve-year-old girl would love this book's themes and humor.(less)

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Cristina Monica
Natalie’s mother is depressed. But what is depression? Natalie isn’t sure. All she knows is that one day her mom was okay—smiling, laughing, talking and being—and the next day she wouldn’t even get out of her room, preferring sleep to seeing her own daughter.

Natalie wants deeply to save her mother from whatever is causing her to lose her vitality, but she doesn’t know how. Would whatever idea she comes up with even work? Would it require a miracle?

It makes me happy to see books such as this one
Brad McLelland
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel is, in a word, FANTASTIC. Tae Keller's grasp of her MC Natalie's emotional arc is extremely well-tuned, giving us moments of such depth that I literally found myself in awe at some passages. Natalie is so very human as she tries to understand her mother's depression, sometimes getting it right, sometimes completely misunderstanding a situation, and I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed for Natalie, her family, and their entire struggle. But the book also gives tremendous moments of ligh ...more
Meredith (booksbythewater)
Maybe sometimes the strongest thing of all is knowing that one day you'll be all right again, and waiting and waiting until you can come into the sun.

Rating: 5 stars

Can you actually believe a quote like that came from a middle grade novel? If you're anything like me, when I started this book search for my third grade book club I assumed everything I'd read would be childish and irrelevant to me. Well now I feel like an idiot, because that is so wrong. Tae Keller gets it here. Without onc

Ms. Yingling
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC provided by publisher through Follett's First Look Program

Natalie is dealing with a lot-- her best friend, Mikayla, no longer talks to her; she likes her teacher Mr. Neely but is occasionally overwhelmed by his enthusiasm; and her mother is so depressed that she doesn't get out of bed most days. Natalie knows this is because her mother was fired from her job at the university botany department by Mikayla's mother, but she wishes that she had her "old" mother back. When Mr. Neely suggests tha
Jen Petro-Roy
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely book about coping with the unknown, challenging family circumstances, friendship, and hope. This is Tae Keller's debut novel, and I can't wait to read what she writes next.
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book about STEM and the scientific process!
Amazing girl protagonist!
Diverse cast of characters!
A book that realistically portrays what it is like to have a parent with depression
Well written and great pacing

#rip all the poor eggs broken in the name of science
Looking back, I'm not so sure she was right. I want to say to her, "Plants are not people. Plants eat and grow and breathe, but they cannot laugh or sing or wonder." And now she cannot laugh or sing or wonder.

This is such a powerful book. Such an important book. I don't know that I've read many middle-grades dealing with depression, and the ones I have read rarely deal with depression in a parent. And it's so well handled in this book.

We follow Natalie, a twelve-year-old girl who is convinced
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing

In Tae Keller’s heartwarming yet humorous middle-grade novel, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS, we meet Natalie Napoli, a seventh grader whose botanist mom is suffering from depression. The only way to get her out of her funk, Natalie believes, is to take her mom to New Mexico to pluck the magical Cobalt Blue Orchid—a flower that Natalie hopes will bring her mom back to life. Using the scientific method—and with some help from her best friend, Twig, and their lab-partner Dari—Natalie learns that
mindful.librarian ☀️
Thanks to the author and publisher for sharing a copy of this book with @kidlitexchange for review! All opinions are my own.

YAY for girls + SCIENCE!!! My 6th grade daughter is majorly into science and it is SO hard to find books for her that fit this interest area, so I was ecstatic to start reading this and realize just HOW science-y it is! The entire story is based on the scientific method and the science projects of Natalie and her friends, along with a storyline about Natalie's botanist moth
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was so touching and wonderful. I teared up! Full of STEM geek love, bubbling with emotion, fun, sass, great friends, family problems, friendship break-ups and make-ups, real 7th grade problems I recall all too well! And a real look at parental depression. Highly recommend this one. <3 <3 ...more
Wendy MacKnight
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read
What a beautiful, wonderful book! The impact of depression is dealt with in a wonderfully accessible way, and Keller does an amazing job of letting us walk in Natalie’s shoes. Add in a caring teacher, two lovable best friends, and #science project, this is a not-to-be missed book!
Alexandra Ott
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a really lovely and emotional middle grade contemporary about friendship, family, and hope. The characters are smart and hilarious (especially Twig <3) and the writing is lovely. Have a box of tissues on hand for this one! ...more
Aj Sterkel
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Likes: This is one of those books that I struggled with in the beginning and then suddenly didn’t want to put down. I may have severely delayed my dinner to finish it. (If you know how much I love food, then you’ll know that’s a big deal.)

I adore these characters! Natalie, Twig, and Dari are three of the most engaging characters I’ve come across in a middlegrade book. Natalie has a distinctive voice. She’s mature, but she occasionally makes hilarious observations. I love Twig’s energy and lack o
Kathy Martin
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Twelve-year-old Natalie is having a bad year. Her mom seldom leaves her room and seems to have turned into not-Mom. She is worried about her botanist mother and a little angry at her too. Luckily, she has the support of her best friend Twig who keeps school interesting with her big personality. She also has a new friend in Dari who is here from India with his parents.

Natalie has a plan to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids that she has been studying. They are unique plants that can s
Bel’s Bookshelf
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would definitely recommend this book! It is an insightful story about a girl dealing with her mom’s depression. It was fascinating to read about how depression doesn’t just impact the person, but also the people in their life.

Typically, I shy away from books about depression. I’m a HUGE fantasy person and nonfiction books about real life issues make me kinda depressed myself. I was surprised that this didn’t happen with this book! The author brilliantly wove humor into the story that made the
Laura (bbliophile)
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am SOBBING this book is so good <3 ...more
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize, how much I missed reading children's literature. Especially, when it's this good.
Cassie Thomas
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a story that portrays depression, and it was so perfectly portrayed. Depression affects so many, either in obvious ways or silent ways, and I think it’s imperative for kids to start being aware of these issues. Natalie’s story was one that I can absolutely relate to, and so much of her adolescent life is familiar in myself, but also my students. I love the science connection. I will definitely be book talking to my students and sharing as much as I can. I already have a few stu ...more
Jen Malone
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love that this is told through science project entries (and further love all of the STEM included, between the project and Natalie's mom being a botanist!), but the heart of this story is the angst Natalie feels over her mother's withdrawal from the family due to depression and the sweet lengths Natalie will go to in hopes of fixing the situation. It deals with a very serious topic in an accessible way that really works beautifully.
Clare Lund
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a powerful message about never giving up on family, and I adored Natalie’s sense of humor that shone through in her character’s voice and observations, even while she was hurting. Great read for ages 9 and up.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The novel, The Science of Breakable Things, is an incredibly insightful and powerful book. It deals with such deep lessons and truth about depression and the hardship of family, friendship and growing up. I really enjoyed this book and found myself in awe of how profound a children’s realistic fiction novel was; I was not at all expecting to understand and relate to this book the way I did. I had such a hard time putting this book down, I empathized with Natalie, laughed with Natalie, and even c ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interest Level: 3-6; Reading Level: 5.8

@kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

Imagine you are just starting middle school but your life has been turned upside down. The happy, loving family that you once knew has changed because your mom has gone into her bedroom for months and won't come out due to depression. This is what is going on in Natalie's life. Natalie doesn't understand why her mom won't get out of bed,
Laura Gardner
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS by @tae_keller
Thx to @theloudlibrarylady for sharing this ARC with me and @kidlitexchange (#partner). This book came out last Tuesday, March 6. All opinions are my own.
Swipe for the back!
I simply love this raw, unflinching look at how depression affects the whole family. Parents are not perfect and we need more books that reflect that reality. Natalie is my favorite kind of middle grade character—honest about her struggles and
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really cute book! It's much better than The Thing About Watermelons, but not better than The Thing About Jellyfish. It's right in the middle there for me. I would have liked to explore the mother a bit more, like they do in The Astonishing Color of After, but I get that the perspectives of those MCs really differ, not only in personality but also in age.

Since it's a sciency-book, though, I wonder if we could have touched on the science of depression and explain (better) how depression isn't the
Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)
This was an interesting book because it was a middle grade fiction story dealing with a parent’s depression. Natalie isn’t really sure what depression is or why it’s causing her mom to be sad, but she’s convinced that she can win the grand prize of an egg drop contest and take her mom to a happy place that will make her “normal” again. Natalie’s thoughts and actions really felt realistic and I found myself tearing up at times at the sadness Natalie is facing. For my personal preference, it was a ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A young girl tries to make sense of her scientist mother’s sudden plunge into depression. Funny, eloquent, smart and true.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and poignantly sweet story that deals gently but accurately with depression and it's effects on your family. The three kids' friendship was realistic and fun and excellent. A great book for any young readers, but especially any who have family members struggling with depression.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This could be a 2019 Schneider Award.
I cried multiple times during this sweet and honest book. If you have a family member struggling with depression, you can relate to what Natalie is going through. It is HARD to “lose” someone you love to a sadness like that. I also loved loved loved the relationship between Natalie and Twig, and eventually Dari. It made me miss my friends from my childhood. :) I’m curious to see what the book club kids think!
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seventh-grader, Natalie and her parents are dealing with a "situation". The "situation" being that Natalie's once happy, vibrant botanist mother has Depression. Confused, angry, and hurt Natalie thinks it's her job to "fix" her mother and she finds the solution when her science teacher encourages her to enter an egg drop competition. If she and her best friend, Twig, and new friend, Dari, can win the prize money, Natalie can take her mom to see the impossible and miraculous Colbalt Blue Orchids, ...more
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TAE KELLER grew up in Honolulu, where she wrote stories, ate Spam musubis, and participated in her school’s egg drop competition. (She did not win.) After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she moved to New York City to work in publishing, and she now has a very stubborn Yorkie and a multitude of books as roommates.

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While books about anti-racism are trending on Goodreads and dominating the bestseller lists right now, some of our favorite Black authors are a...
204 likes · 42 comments
“You can’t always protect breakable things. Hearts and eggs will break but you keep going anyway, because science is asking questions and living is not being afraid of the answer.” 9 likes
“A scientist never apologizes for asking questions. Questions keep us alive.” 6 likes
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