Summary: Clementine is spending the whole summer sailing with her parents on their forty-two foot boat. The seclusion from her friends would normally be unthinkable, but she finds herself alone because she did something terrible. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend.
Last year Melissa Walker’s book, Small Town Sinners, really took me outside my comfort zone and introduced me to a story that was completely unlike anything I’d ever read. When I saw Unbreak My Heart pop up on Netgalley, it was all I could do not to refresh my inbox constantly to see if we’d been approved for the title. I jumped for joy when we received the approval email, and I happily (i.e. HAPPILY) devoured it.
I had never read a book about a teenager who falls for her someone who is already in a relationship. Especially not her best friend’s boyfriend. I knew from the summary that this happened so I was prepared for lots of tangled emotions. From the very beginning, I was (unexpectedly) laughing at Clem’s inner dialogue. She was a fun, loveable character who made a terrible mistake. I love that Walker didn’t create a character who lacked any and all personality; Clem was a fantastic girl who screwed up and realizes how much she’s lost for the sake of a boy.
Walker made me connect and understand what Clem was going through, but she also showed me the agony that was a result of Clem’s year-long debacle with Ethan. While I don’t approve of cheating, I understand the mix of emotions and enjoyed seeing how the whole story was pieced together. The chapters alternated between present day, with Clem being frustrated and depressed, to reflections of the past as she tried to piece together how she could have fallen for Ethan.
I’ve never cheated on someone, but I did have a guy best friend from junior high through most of high school. I had more-than-friends feelings for this boy, and though things never worked out between us and we each married other people, I guess you could say we were in a constant tango – our feelings would ebb back and forth for one another. I would be so completely heartbroken when I saw him in a relationship with someone who wasn’t me. I would like to think this isn’t an uncommon occurrence for teenagers who have so many emotions and insecurities. Walker did an incredible job exploring how everything happened and how those choices affected every part of Clem’s life.
One of my most favorite aspects of a YA book is when there are strong family ties. Clem is stuck on the boat with her parents and 10-year-old sister, Olive. I found myself repeatedly thinking “I want to be parents like them,” or “I want do have children as close as these girls are.” It’s a rarity to see such a well-balanced and supportive family. I shed a few tears over scenes with Olive and the parents; they were so touching and perfect.
But, of course, nothing excited me more than the boy in Unbreak My Heart. Red (aka: James). Clem and James’ boats are sailing along the same route over the summer. It’s only natural that they’d bump into each other every once in a while. My heart did a pitter-patter, happy dance when I saw his name on the page. He was funny, sweet, and kind; he was respectful and genuine.
He is probably one of my FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT BOYS.
I know! That’s a big, bold statement. But I’m standing by it.
I’m really curious to know if you’ll feel the same way about James and how you’ll respond to Clem after you finish this book. I’m clicking over to Amazon right now to pre-order my copy; Unbreak My Heart is definitely a book I want to own.