Friday, June 15, 2018

The Summer of Broken Things

The Summer of Broken Things. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 393 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: "We need to talk," Dad says.

Premise/plot: The Summer of Broken Things is set in Spain and stars two very different heroines: Avery and Kayla.

Avery Armisted will--like it or not--be accompanying her father on his extended business trip in Spain. When she's told a friend can come, she assumes--for better or worse--that she'll get to pick the friend. That won't be the case. The 'friend' he has in mind is Kayla Butts. These two played together often when Avery was a toddler, but, Kayla has been out of sight and out of mind for practically forever--to Avery's reckoning!

Kayla Butts is nervously excited about this opportunity. On the one hand: she'll actually be leaving her small hometown and going somewhere--out of the country somewhere: Spain. This is an opportunity that is more likely than not once in a lifetime. On the other hand, she'll be living with strangers. Will they get along? Will she be treated like a friend? or like hired help? Will Avery be nice or mean? You see, Kayla is so far from popular. She's used to being treated as less than by her peers. Her friends tend to be decades older. As in living in nursing homes older. Everything will be new-to-her. She doesn't know yet how well she'll adapt to all the new.

The trip doesn't get off to the best of starts. Problems at the airport--both in the U.S. and Spain--make for a rocky start. And Kayla's worst fears are confirmed: Avery looks down upon her and doesn't hide the fact. Avery is so not subtle with hiding her contempt for Kayla. OR for her father for that matter. Avery is argumentative with her father and incredibly disrespectful. Kayla hasn't seen such a messy family this close-up.

What will the summer bring Kayla and Avery?

My thoughts: The Summer of Broken Things kept me reading. I won't say I 'enjoyed' it because can you really enjoy watching someone else's life crumble into a million pieces? But I can say that I found it compelling and well-written.

Kayla is by far my favorite character. As Kayla's coming-of-age story, the book works really well. The trip changes her...and changes her for the better. She is a stronger, more confident, happier person by the end of the book.

Avery is my least favorite character. She isn't the same Avery at the end of the story. Thank goodness! But she's still Avery. She hasn't transformed overnight into a saint. Nor should she. That wouldn't be believable. Perhaps the difference is that Kayla *is* two years older. Avery is fourteen. I appreciate Kayla's maturity and outlook. Avery has potential--but a long path ahead of her. She'll get there. She will. And perhaps she'll look back and say this trip was the start of it all.

The book is an emotional family drama. There are some intense moments. I was right there feeling them all--connected with the story and the characters.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Alyssa Nelson 9:23 AM  

Haha it's the worst when you're like: I'm loving this book about this horrible thing, but "compelling" is a great word to use for that. This sounds intense, but amazingly good. Great review!

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

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