Review: The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

April 2, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 10 ★★

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Summer of Broken ThingsThe Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 10th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
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From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.

Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.

But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.

Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.

The Summer of Broken Things is just that, a story about two girls whose worlds seem to collide and fall apart while on summer vacation together, and the ways it changed them.

Avery’s father must travel to Spain for the summer and insists that not only she come with him, but that they bring along a girl she once knew as a young child, Kayla. Both girls couldn’t be more different from each other and Avery feels a little resentment that Kayla is tagging along instead of one of her friends. Tension only gets worse when a secret is revealed that connects the girls in ways they didn’t expect. Now the girls must overcome their feelings of hurt and betrayal and find a way to survive the summer together.

I love a story with flawed characters. I love watching them make mistakes and learn and grow from them. Teens are practically hard-wired to be a little selfish and moody. I remember those days and cringe, to be perfectly honest. With that said, it can be a little difficult to read when a character is overly shown in such a light and for much of the novel and that’s where I was with The Summer of Broken Things. The novel goes back and forth in the POV of Avery and Kayla. Avery is very disappointed that she’s not spending the summer playing soccer with her friends and constantly took it out on Kayla. And when her world is seemingly turned upside down, it only got worse. I tried very hard to empathize with Avery but she didn’t make it easy and often came off as completely unlikable. She’s very spoiled and somewhat mean, desperately needing some humility and empathy in her life. There was a bit of growth by the end but I can’t say I was completely satisfied with her character’s overall progression. On the flip side, Kayla was much more my speed. She had trouble fitting in with her peers, instead making friends with the elderly she meets at the nursing home where her mother works. She was meek and awkward but sweet and understanding. She also takes the secret hard and struggles a great deal with how to handle it. But by the end she opens up and holds her own in ways she hadn’t before, with much more confidence in herself. There are quite a few squabble between the girls for much of the book but I was somewhat satisfied with how their relationship resolved by the close.

I really think this is a story about two girls thrown together, needing to learn life lessons that the other has already conquered. There’s a strong theme of being thankful for what you have and also that no family is perfect. The plot was overall likable and the twist did bring something different to the table but when you have a story relying heavily on the characters, it can be tough to get through when you can’t connect and I think that was my main issue.

About Margaret Peterson Haddix

Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.

She has since written more than 25 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey; Leaving Fishers; Just Ella; Turnabout; Takeoffs and Landings; The Girl with 500 Middle Names; Because of Anya; Escape from Memory; Say What?; The House on the Gulf; Double Identity; Dexter the Tough; Uprising; Palace of Mirrors; Claim to Fame; the Shadow Children series; and the Missing series. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and more than a dozen state reader’s choice awards.

Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio, with their two children.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

10 Responses to “Review: The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix”

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    Too bad you didn’t connect with the characters. This issue has made me put a book down because I have to care about them. I’ve read books by the author before and have enjoyed them very much. I might try to check this out from the library sometime and give it a try for myself. Thanks for the review!

  2. Nick

    I like unlikeable characters too, but they sound like they are extreme here. Too bad because the concept sounded interesting enough. I’m sorry you didn’t care for this one as much, Sara.

    • Sara @ Forever 17 Books

      Yes, exactly. And other kids were quite mean about it, as you can imagine. 🙁

      Not sisters. I thought that at first too but perhaps that was too obvious. So the real secret was a bit of a surprise.

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