Estelle: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things… by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts Fences and Other Things by Katie FinnBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn ( web | tweet )
Book 1 in a series.
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel + Friends
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: summer, Hamptons, old friendships, secret identities
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)

Summary: Unexpectedly single for the summer and her original plans changed, Gemma’s mom & stepdad ship her off to her screenwriter dad in the Hamptons. Even though it’s been years, Gemma is nervous about this new development because the last time she was in the Hamptons she did some terrible things and wonders if they will all come back to haunt her. So when she finds herself on the train with her ex-best friend’s brother and he mistakes her for someone else, Gemma thinks pretending to be Sophie (her best friend from home) for the summer is a great idea.

My own truths about Broken Hearts, etc.:

1. I guessed the outcome of the book before the halfway mark.
2. I did not connect with any of the characters or their relationships.
3. I still read until the end of the book.

I started Broken Hearts with certain expectations because Katie Finn is Morgan Matson’s pen name and she has been nothing but a total delight in my reading life. But I found myself muttering something very surprising as I read this: I don’t think I’m the right audience for this book. I rarely feel “old” when I read young adult because there are so many feelings that parallel how I feel in my life today and also remind me of some of the brighter and tougher moments from my childhood. (I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t want to remember things so this is a positive.)

But I had to suspend a lot of reality to believe an 11-year old Gemma could be so vindictive without consequences or without an utter breakdown on her part. I know that young kids can get themselves into messes but unlike an adult who engages in this kind of behavior, I think it’s more likely for a child of that age to give in and fall apart because things are so out of control. But instead, she gets away with the awful things she does even though she still feels guilty years and years later. (Not guilty enough to fess up, even as she “matured.”)

I found myself thinking a lot about movies I like where characters take on another identity in a situation that affects a lot of people. Two that popped in my head were Ladybugs (Jonathon Brandis pretends to be a girl for a soccer team season) and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (The babysitter dies, everyone is scared to do anything about it, so Christina Applegate’s character lies on her resume and gets a fashion job for the summer to take care of her siblings while her mom is away on vacation). These are both highly entertaining films where I still feel for the characters in these impossible and improbable situations, and that’s what was missing for me in Broken Hearts. The characters and the relationships were not funny or genuine enough; the scenes, instead, felt like they were moving full-steam ahead (into more and more dubious situations) and losing all those important details along the way.

Even if the book is meant to be breezy and fun, I still want to connect with the characters. That’s the bottom line.

Another nudging feeling that I couldn’t shake during Broken Hearts was how other books I’ve read conquered this kind of premise better. Here are two:

  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: While I wasn’t fully invested in this series until book 2, it balanced deception and fully developed side plots (friendship, relationships, fears, etc.) in a way that even made me care for the “bad guy”.  The potential for this happening in Broken Hearts was there (Josh, Gemma’s relationship with her dad) but never fully realized.
  • Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin: an authentic Hamptons-in-the-summer book. I don’t understand the choice to use a real locale if you aren’t going to work to get the tiny details correct. (Maggie at Just a Couple More touches upon that in her review.)

All in all, Broken Hearts wasn’t my cup of (iced) tea and I won’t be continuing the series. As a reader, you just can’t love them all.

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8 thoughts on “Estelle: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things… by Katie Finn

  1. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook says:

    Awww, that’s too bad you didn’t care for this one. I haven’t read it or any books by Morgan Matson.

    I do love those two movies, though. I watched them repeatedly during my childhood. Also, I kind of what to watch Ladybugs, now 🙂

  2. Rachel says:

    Awww sad. I started this one a few weeks ago, but had to set it aside due to school, and I remember thinking it felt a bit young to me as well. I’m really interested in my thoughts on it since we generally have similar feelings about contemporary YA. I’m sorry you couldn’t connect at all! That feeling is the worst.

  3. Cassie @ Happy Book Lovers says:

    That’s disappointing that you didn’t like it. They’ve been pushing this book a TON via Instagram and Twitter, doing quote images and things, which always makes me wary of a book. I feel like they wouldn’t necessarily do that if readers are talking about it a lot.

    It’s always sad to me though when I don’t like a book. Good to know I can skip this one.

  4. Alexa S. says:

    I can totally see where you’re coming from with Broken Hearts…! It’s definitely meant for an audience a bit younger, particularly because of its implausibility. But I had fun reading it? I don’t know. It just reminded me a lot of Gossip Girl, The Clique, etc. The situations are so implausible, and I could predict everything that would happen too – but it was still kind of fun.

  5. Liz (Along for the Read) says:

    I just found out yesterday that this was Morgan Matson and feel like a complete idiot for not figuring it out before as I was reading about it. I’m glad that she is keeping this stuff separate from her MM identity as she obviously sees them as being for different audiences. Smart business move, especially if it is not quite up to the standard of her regular stuff.

  6. Judith says:

    SO AGREE WITH YOU! I did like it a little more than you did, I think, but I really agree with what you said as well, especially the feeling too old for this book. I was really unconvinced by Gemma’s decisions and especially the lack of involvement from her parents. And I guessed the big twist almost immediately as well. I’m sad that this didn’t work for me because MORGAN MATSON, but I’m also glad she published it under a different name because it’s meant for a different audience, and I would have been devastated otherwise.

  7. Alicia says:

    OH MY I didn’t know that Katie Finn is Morgan Matson!! Picked this up because the cover screams of cuteness. I’m only 4 chapters in so can’t make any judgement yet but LOL GEMMA MAKES TERRIBLE DECISIONS. Thank you for the review, I’ll probably go into this one expecting a quick, light read that’s all 🙂

  8. Faith Kappel says:

    Such a long title, but such an interesting book. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn is the first book in the trilogy of Broken Hearts and Revenge. Before reading this, I wasn’t interested in opening up the book. But the first couple sentences pulled me in and soon, mom would be yelling at me telling me to get out of this other amazing world.

    Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend is about Gemma going to go visit her dad in the Hamptons for the first time in five years. And last time she was there, she may have ruined a few things with a former best friend, Hallie. Now going back, Gemma is a new person. Literally. Thinking she can have a fresh start Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, she keeps this new status. Can she keep her new identity a secret, or will it be revealed?

    “Broken Hearts” romance can be described like “Divergents” romance, where Gemma goes somewhere new, hoping to change her life, but finding love and doesn’t know how to tell them what she really is. Lots of different books have the similar themes related to getting new friends and growing relationships, but it all takes a twist at the end making you read on to the next book, and that is something that you can’t compare other books to this one.

    This book was so interesting and literally kept me reading with its twist and turns, romance, teen relating and new and old friendships. Finn keeps the plot nice and organized while there was so much going on, which helped with other situations because they would slide perfectly in place. The pacing was perfect, in the beginning of the book it started on right on a hard problem which lead to everything else and throughout the book I ever got bored, all the obstacles kept the book so compelling.

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