Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Broken Soup

Oh, dear. There has been little to no time to blog this summer, but seeing that there hasn’t been an update in over a month I feel compelled to post. Also, I just got back from the ALA convention in Chicago with an armload of advanced reading copies, most of them teen books. So stayed tuned for new posts coming soon.

The last teen book I read was Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine. The title is explained about midway through the novel when the protagonist’s little sister tries to make a meal. She drops the tray and cries out, “I tried to make things all nice and now look at this broken soup.” This is a metaphor for how life in general is going for the family in the aftermath of the drowning death of their brother/son. Rowan (the teen protagonist) is trying to keep things together after her brother dies, her father leaves, and her mother breaks down into depression. Suddenly Rowan is responsible for her little sister and for hiding the truth of their increasingly desperate home situation. In the meantime, a handsome boy comes into Rowan’s life after he hands her a photo negative he claims she dropped. Rowan knows the negative isn’t hers, but he insists it is so she takes it. A new friend helps her develop the photo and Rowan is shocked to find that it’s a candid shot of her dead brother. Where did this photo come from? Who took it and how is the handsome boy involved? What kind of secret life did her brother live?

I liked this though I found that some parts dragged ever so slightly. Rowan's story is less compelling than the story of the other characters she tells, which might explain the slow bits. Still, Rowan is likable as are all the characters. I saw some of the plot twists coming but it didn’t spoil the story. This is a well-written, realistic novel about how difficult it is for life to go on after the loss of a loved one.

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