Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?
Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.
I’ll admit, the cover is quite girly. I think it’s adorable, but I know that some readers might look at it and see fluff. Unbreak My Heart is not fluff. It does, however, have a hopefulness to it that the cover illustrates in ways. I like that Clementine is on a boat in the middle of nowhere with nothing on the horizon… to me, this is reminiscent of Clem’s state of mind throughout most of the novel. Still, don’t judge this book by it’s cover! It’s light enough to be a beach read in that’s it’s fairly straightforward and isn’t dark and twisted, but that doesn’t mean it’s fluff. (I mean, look at Anna and the French Kiss… the cover looks fluffy, not to mention the cutesy title, but Anna is not fluffy!)
I adore the characters in Unbreak My Heart. All of them. They all felt real to me and I loathed to leave them behind when I finished the novel. Clem is surrounded by such wonderful people that you just knew that she’d make it through her rough patch… even if this wasn’t a YA novel with a pink cover, I know Clem would have been just fine.
One of the best aspects of this novel is the fact that, while Clem is distressed over having fallen for her best friend’s boyfriend, she much more worried about her relationship with her best friend than with the boy. Yes! This is so, so important to me. In addition, I liked that the novel dealt with the double standard of the best friend getting ditched while the boyfriend is forgiven.
Annnnd of course there’s romance. And it’s wonderful and hopeful and fresh! Sometimes I get so discouraged by all those star-crossed lovers and messy love triangles – especially when my real love life features messiness way too often. It’s nice to see something lighthearted and positive. It was such a relief to see someone healthy enter into a heroine’s life… that simplicity is refreshing. And, honestly, unique in comparison with I’ve been reading lately.
Unbreak My Heart is contemporary YA at it’s best. I can’t stress enough how firmly this book has wedged itself in my heart. Read it! You won’t be disappointed.
Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, May 2012, ISBN: 9781599905280, 240 pages.