No one can break your heart like your best friend.
Beautiful Broken Things is a hauntingly beautiful novel of friendship and life. It explores the power of friends against the backdrop of being a teenager, abuse and family. This book really works. It isn’t a fairy story with a happy ending. It isn’t a tale of a young girl being “fixed” by love or friendship. It’s a raw tale of something I could believe to be utterly true.
Cadie and Rosie are best friends and have been since they were little.
Cadie goes to a private girls school. She has a few friends she hangs out with at school. Those that don’t fit into any group. But her best friend, her only real friend, is Rosie.
Rosie is popular and pretty. She has many friend at her local high school but her best friend is Cadie.
Then one day a new girl starts at Rosie’s school. Suzanne.
Suzanne is beautiful. She is also broken.
Cadie is drawn to Suzanne. At first she is jealous that Rosie has a new friend that isn’t her. A beautiful, exciting friend. But as she gets to know Suzanne she realises that she is drowning and she doesn’t know how to save her.
Suzanne was physically abused by her stepfather and is currently living with her Aunt in Brighton. She is struggling with the feelings of anger, worthlessness and pain that this has caused. No one seems to understand her or care about what’s happened. Until Cadie. Cadie makes the effort to try and understand Suzanne. She doesn’t lecture her when Suzanne turns up at her house at 2am to go for a walk. Cadie just goes with her.
Suzanne and Cadie’s new friendship causes a rift between her and Rosie. But Cadie likes Suzanne. She’s her friend and wants to help her, wants to understand her.
Ultimately during one of their midnight walks Cadie has an accident and is hospitalised. Suzanne blames herself and decides the only option is to kill herself. Cadie recognises the signs and warns her father. Suzanne has tried before.
Suzanne is stopped and admitted to a psychiatric ward. She decides not to return to Brighton. She needs help. She needs a fresh start. But in doing so she will leave Cadie forever.
This is a really poignant and bittersweet novel. The adults around Cadie and Suzanne only see Suzanne as a bad influence. Cadie, previously sensible, is leaving the house in the middle of the night, drinking and smoking, she even leaves with Suzanne to go to Reading and stays out all night without telling anyone.
It’s easy to see how the other’s in Cadie’s life see Suzanne in a bad light. But Cadie is drawn to Suzanne. Suzanne is a good friend in the only way she knows how. Suzanne is loyal, protective, and fun. Cadie comes out of her shell and realises the stalemate her life has been. Suzanne isn’t a bad person, but she’s been damaged by her past and she doesn’t know how to deal with her emotions. No one stood up for her during her years of abuse. Her mother even told her she could take it because she was strong. She has received no real help from anyone for what has happened.
Everyone blames Suzanne for Cadie’s accident. But in the end it was an accident. The consequences were Suzanne’s suicide attempt and admission to hospital.
In the end Suzanne’s friendship with Cadie lead her to decisions that will make sure she gets the help she needs. Cadie saw a different world and became a stronger person.
This is a really good book. Honestly, I read it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. There is no happy ending because in life there isn’t always a happy ending. But Cadie and Suzanne both benefitted from their friendship. No matter what the future holds for them it’s a part of their lives that is very important to them both.
It challenges the stigma of mental illness and trauma. It also address the issue of teenagers who get labelled as “troubled” and how difficult it is to be a teenager. Cadie feels boring and uninteresting because she’s had no big event in her life. Suzanne is a ship in a storm that doesn’t know how to get back to port and no one to guide her.
I really recommend this one for your reading list. You will not be disappointed.
Have you read Beautiful Broken Things? Let me know what you think below!
Get it here: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard