The characters were realistic and complex and Barnard really nails their teenage voices.
Barnard does a great job with Suzanne’s character. It would have been tempting to overplay Suzanne’s personality and sensationalise her backstory. Instead we – along with Caddy – slowly learn more and more about the ‘damaged’ young woman who’s come to live with her aunt after a family crisis.
The novel is essentially about the arrival of Suzanne and impact it has on Caddy and Rosie. Suzanne’s beautiful and had far more life experience than her new best friends. Caddy – in particular – is insanely jealous of Suzanne, before falling under her spell.
Barnard allows Suzanne to slowly unburden herself in a way that doesn’t sensationalise or diminish what she’s been through.
Friendship is a key theme of this novel. I know people who think 3-way friendships never work as there’s always someone left out. I’m not sure this is the case, but it’s certainly a minefield under negotiation here. But despite that we’re reminded how powerful and affirming friendship can be.
Unsurprisingly – for a novel about teenage girls and young women – confidence and self-worth also feature strongly. In fact, for me this was integral. This novel is beautifully written. It’s addictive in many ways. Readers are swept up in this story of the girls, wrapped effortlessly in informal but lyrical – almost mesmerising – prose.
So… in case you didn’t get it the first two times… I loved this beautiful book and can’t recommend it highly enough.
Read the full (somewhat lengthy) review on my blog: http://www.debbish.com/books-literature/beautiful-broken-things-by-sara-barnard/