|AUTHOR: Melissa Walker
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury USA
PUBLICATION DATE: May 22, 2012
GIVE IT TO: MS, HS girls
SUMMARY: While sailing for the summer with her parents and 10-year old sister, 16-year old Clementine Williams nurses her own heartache and wonders how a boy sailing the same route could possibly care about her if he knew what she did a few weeks before. Chapters alternate between the present sailing trip and the events of the previous year when Clem’s life started to fall apart.
REVIEW: With realistic characters and a believable story, Unbreak My Heart is a standout among realistic fiction for teen girls. Author Melissa Walker does not simply tell the reader about Clem’s depression, she skillfully allows the reader feel it as well. And while not all teens may experience Clem’s self-loathing, plenty of close girlfriends stumble when a boy comes between them. As someone who works closely with teens every day, I know how volatile even the strongest teen friendships can be, especially when two girls are fighting over a boy they both like. Many, many female readers will relate the emotional trauma of Clementine and Amanda’s argument; while neither girl is totally blameless, their actions and behavior are completely normal and occur in high schools every single day. Walker’s sensitive treatment of Clem and Amanda’s fragile friendship avoids casting either girl as catty or 100% at fault. Both girls care deeply for one another and are hurt by Clem’s betrayal.
I love how Unbreak My Heart focuses on the importance of family and friendship. Clem and James both love their parents (imagine that!) even though they sometimes get upset with them or need time away. Clem’s emotional outbursts are numerous, but her family handles them tenderly without feeding into her self-pity. Clem’s sister Olive is the complete little sister; she is a funny, sensitive, sometimes pouty, intuitive little girl who adores her big sister and always wants to tag along. Even though much of the story focuses on Clem’s romance with James, family and friendship are what really helps Clem get through this dark time in her young life.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Unbreak My Heart‘s realistic portrayal of teen friendships, guilt, depression, and divorce are spot-on portrayals of real teen life. Lots of teens will relate to Clem and Amanda’s pain after a boy that tears their friendship apart.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I will purchase this for the library when it comes out in May. Realistic, beautifully written, and utterly relatable.
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 3/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Engrossing: 3/5
- Writing: 4/5
- Appeal to teens: 4/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: mild
- Sexuality: mild; kissing and touching skin under shirt (not breasts)
- Violence: none
- Drugs/Alcohol: none