Category: sara barnard

Fierce Fragile Hearts Book Review

Author: Sara Barnard

Rating: 5/5

I’m not generally a fan of contemporary YA novels as series. I think stand-alone’s are far more satisfying, and far less drawn out. So you can see why I was reluctant to pick up a sequel to a book I loved (Beautiful Broken Things review here) which I thought would be unnecessary at best, a waste of time at worst. 

I was so wrong. This book was beautiful. It focusses in a girl named Suzanne, who was a victim of child abuse and, at the beginning of the novel, is in the foster care system. We follow Suzanne as she gains her independence in a very big and very complex world which is moving on faster than her. Whilst I’m not an abuse survivor, I find Barnard’s narration endlessly relatable; the way Suzanne reflects on the concept of death, her description of feeling you’re on the edge and being too tired to do anything about it, and so many other moments. 

The relationships between Suzanne and her friends are so raw and real. Caddy and Rosie are far more developed than in the first instalment, and I love the different directions that Barnard took these three in. That said, my favourite relationship is between Suzanne and her retired musician neighbour, Dilys. Dilys is the perfect example of the good in this world that Suzanne had been so deprived of, and their friendship was pure and benevolent.

Finally, I want to talk about Suzanne’s family. Her brother plays a complicated role in her life, having never been a victim of their father’s wrath. It’s both heart-wrenching and disgusting how his childhood was so opposite to Suzanne’s, and how that affects their sibling relationship. Her mother is also beyond complicated, and this book gave me an insight into why child abuse is so rarely reported by family members. It’s so much more difficult than I could ever imagine, having such a loving and supportive family myself.

So, as if you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I loved it more than Beautiful Broken Things. One of my new favourites for sure.

Beautiful Broken Pieces Book Review

Author: Sara Barnard

Rating: 4/5

Until the ending, this book was very so-so. Developed enough characters, advancing plot, very readable writing style. I solid 3-4 star read.

BUT WAIT. I cannot tell you how perfect the ending was. I was crying in my library! That lifted it to 4.5 for me.

Overall, I had problems with ALL of the characters, but that doesn’t mean thy were badly written. Caddy (the narrator) was ungrateful and spoilt – and pitied herself for it. And whilst this was annoying, I think it was meant to be. I see Caddy in so many people I know – people who are jealous of others’ trauma because it’s more exciting than their boring life. And, if you are inexperienced in how ruining and scarring trauma can be, you might see where she’s coming from. Rosie was more difficult to dissect; she doesn’t take anyone’s bull, but she’s also judgmental and controlling. Finally, Suzanne. I think she could represent how some people deal with their abusive past, but I don’t think in the slightest that she represents the majority – and that’s why her characterisation could be considered “damaging” to some reviewers.

I think you were meant to have your own opinion on the character’s actions, and that’s why they were so frustrating. Bernard creates a chasmic ironic gap in which the reader can fully understand situations the narrator can’t, which is difficult to do well.

As I’ve said, the ending truly made this book for me. For that alone, I would recommend Beautiful Broken Things.

A Quiet Kind Of Thunder Book Review

Author: Sara Barnard

Rating: 4.5/5

I actually loved this book. With contemporary novels, especially YA, I often find them too cliché or too wooden – and I think this one is neither. Yes, it’s a little cheesy. But, in my opinion, it has enough actual content to make the cheesiness worthwhile.

What drew me to A Quiet Kind Of Thunder most was the representation: the narrator has severe social anxiety and is in the recovery process of selective mutism, and another main character is deaf. Now, I’m not deaf but I can speak for the severe social anxiety rep and I think it was portrayed pretty accurately. It was small things, like there was a whole page literally naming all the anxious thoughts that the main character had whilst just on a bus, that made me resonate with this book so much. Her thought process was so completely relatable and raw that I have to commend the author. Still on the mental health topic, this novel focusses on recovery, something that YA doesn’t seem to cover much, and I respect that a lot. This includes the family dynamic that’s explored throughout this book too, and how it’s not only mental health issues affect a family, but recovering from it too.

Following on from that, this novel defies the ‘girl meets boy and all is better now’ trope which I’m SO GLAD ABOUT. They have a good, healthy (in)dependence and, by the end of the novel, have complete understanding of each other and their strengths and weaknesses. That said, I love their relationship too – just pure awkward, teenage emotion that is clumsy and real.

The only thing I can’t comment on without more info is the deaf representation – so if anyone in the community have read this and have thoughts please let me know!

After reading this I now have an overwhelming urge to learn BSL, which I think is a good thing. 

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