Week 33–Broken Soup

Holy crap! I just realized that I missed my anniversary!  I could have sworn I started blogging in September, but apparently I wrote “Preliminary” on July 27, 2010.  So…happy late anniversary to me!  I thought about doing a give-away or something, but I’m not special enough for that yet 🙂 Hopefully by next year!

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B0046LUD1A&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifrLast week’s book was called Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine. If you’re anything like me, you have a negative reaction to the title/cover combination.  My first expectation was another teeny-bopper novel about a girl who gets dumped by her boyfriend and has to find her way back from the brink of despair.  Now, as someone who has been dumped more than my fair share of times, I understand this despairing feeling and am by no means knocking it. But I get tired of reading the same thing in novels.

Happily, this novel is about as far from that as you can get.  The cover is ridiculously light and misleading, thereby proving that old adage which I will not repeat because we’re all sick of hearing it.  Rowan is a sixteen year old girl living in London. Her brother is dead, her mother is never-leaves-the-bed depressed, her father has left them, and she must be the parent to her little sister.  A chance encounter and a case of mistaken identity introduce her to Harper, an older boy from New York who is spending his years after high school and before college roaming the globe. At the moment he is living in an old out-of-commission ambulance, parking in a new place every night and calling it home.  When Harper gives Rowan the negative of a photo which she knows isn’t hers, she is introduced to facts about her brother’s past that she may never have realized otherwise.  She also finds new friends and is able to reclaim some modicum of her childhood.

It was a book club book–not something I would normally pick up myself. I’d never even heard of it (and I worked in the teen section of Barnes & Noble…sad). The general consensus at our meeting on Sunday was that it was intensely depressing, which isn’t untrue.  Rowan has to deal with a lot of stuff that’s way too above a sixteen year old’s maturity level.  But the novel isn’t without hope.  The end isn’t flowers and rainbows and bunnies, but it’s real.  Rowan finally has something to look forward to.  She regains some semblance of her normal family life back.  There are many more improvements that need to be made beyond where the book cuts off, but it’s true to life in that life’s problems do not all resolve themselves at once.  It’s a good ending for a novel written for teens–a lesson in reality.

The characters are all intriguing in their own ways: Rowan is too strong and mature for her age. Harper has a wandering spirit and a sharp mind. Stroma is a sweet little girl with no real idea why so many drastic changes have happened to her family. Bee is a sensitive friend to Rowan with secrets buried deep, waiting to come out.  Over all of these main players hovers the spirit of Jack, Rowan’s old brother who died two years previous.  Rowan idolizes him, and nearly everything in her life is a reminder of his absence. It is Jack who unites all of these characters in an ending that, I’ll confess, I did not at all see coming.

For plot, character, setting, and emotion, it’s a great novel.  I’m happy I got to read a book that otherwise would have been overlooked.

ex libris


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