Bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix makes her comeback into the world of YA contemporary with The Summer of Broken Things, but there are only two words to describe her newest release: mediocre and pointless.
Avery Armisted is fourteen, rich, pretty, athletic and just a little bit spoiled. When her parents tell her that she is going with her father to Spain for the summer instead of to soccer camp with her friends, she is angry and disappointed. She is even more angry when her father tells her that they are bringing along Kayla Butts, who is two years older and who was a friend when both girls were younger.
Kayla lives with her grandparents and her mother in a small town. She’s not rich, not attractive, and is bullied at school by kids who call her Butt-girl. Her mother works in a nursing home and Kayla often tags along. Her best friends are the residents of the home. She is excited to be going to Spain and hopes that she and Avery can be friends again.
Once in Spain, the girls struggle to get along.
I am mad, and extremely disappointed. It’s 2018, and there are still books out there that insist on portraying teenagers as idiots. Avery Armisted is one of the WORST main characters I have ever read about. What could possibly drive someone to be so selfish, spoiled, and insensitive? Yeah, maybe her parents. But the way she was raised in no way excuses her ridiculous behavior. My blood is still boiling by every single one of Avery’s actions. I thought we were over these characters in the world of YA literature. Instead of taking steps forward, we just took a million ones backward. It’s not 2006 anymore.
Kayla, on the other hand, was much more bearable. When the time came for the big reveal that inspired this book’s title, she turned incredibly irritating. As annoyed as I was, over the pages I began to understand her confusion and frustration, as her family is such a united one. She had great character development and definitely had her moments of courage, wisdom, and charm.
As much as I adored Kayla’s family and all the folks over at the nursing home, there was no way I could enjoy this fully when Avery was there, creeping in the shadows, constantly reminding me of how terrible and awful she was. The worst part is that with a book like this, you expect the main character to change, grow, and evolve. She didn’t even try.
As quick as this read was, considering it’s 400 pages long, I felt like nothing was happening. I kept flipping the pages but there was no progression to the story whatsoever. The whole book was spent with Kayla (low-key) and Avery overreacting to another level, about something that at the end of the day, wasn’t such a big deal. It can be a shocking surprise, and I totally understand feeling startled, confused, or hurt because no one told you before. But at the extent to which it was written, it was too much for me to handle.
Considering this is the great Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times bestselling author with more than 50 books and so many with such high praise, I was expecting this to be a work of art. One of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’d ever read. Instead, the writing was painfully basic and bland, and in my honest opinion, recent debut authors write so much better than this.
In no way do I mean to come off as harsh and rude. Considering how much praise I’ve heard of Haddix’s books, I am awfully disappointed. I wanted this to be as moving and stunning and heartbreaking as its cover. Unfortunately, this is one of the sad cases where the inside doesn’t match the outside at all.
It was overly dramatic, starting with the title itself. I was definitely entertained and it was one of those books that even if you aren’t enjoying, you can’t help but be addicted to the max. But as happy as you are reading it, the flaws are still there. This was my first venture into Margaret Peterson Haddix’s work, and considering my current feelings, it will take lots of convincing for me to check out another one of her books.
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS
The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix comes out April 10, 2018. You can preorder it now via Amazon.
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.