Thursday, January 17, 2019

One Old, One New: Sara Barnard Edition

One Old, One New features two books - one old, one new, which are connected in some way. Today, I am sharing two books by Sara Barnard.

Goodbye, Perfect
Sara Barnard
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
When I was wild, you were steady . . . Now you are wild - what am I?

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.
Bonnie had been Eden's anchor since she was first fostered by her family. But, right before their GCSEs, Bonnie ran away. The search for Bonnie uncovers some secrets she had been keeping, and these revelations threw Eden's world off balance.

There were a lot of interesting topics touched upon in this story - taboo entanglements, scholastic pressure, children caring for their parents, but for me, this was all about Eden and her relationships.

Eden was quite jaded, and I couldn't blame her. She spent her early years in an unstable home with her addict mother, and carried many scars from that time with her.
I'm picky about people at the best of times, but when it comes to my inner circle, the people I let into my heart, I'm ruthless. 
She trusted and loved Bonnie, who she saw as steady and loyal. Bonnie's secrets and lies really hurt Eden, and forced her to reevaluate many aspects of her life. I was never led to believe that Bonnie and Eden had any sort of co-dependent relationship, but still, the time apart from each other allowed Eden to take a closer look at many things, and I really loved the way she began to see herself and her family.

There was a lot of exploration of family and adoption. It was pretty clear, that Eden still struggled with her mother's abandonment, and perhaps, feared that the love the McKinley's showed was not what it seemed. However, through different interactions and inspection of many situations, Eden began to see her foster mother and foster sister in a different light. I really loved seeing her understanding of them grow, and their affections for one another warmed my heart.

This event also triggered Eden to re-examine her ideas about love and her future, as well as her loyalty to Bonnie. Most of these new viewpoints filled me with joy, but it the new realization of her friendship with Bonnie, which broke my heart. Seeing a long friendship like that begin to crack really saddened me, though I couldn't fault Eden for the way she felt.

I loved all the introspection and relationships, but one thing never failed to bring a smile to my face - Connor.
His mum and gran say he's the best boy on the the planet. 
I agree with mum and gran. He was one of those beautiful, soft boys, who just made everything better for me. Because, he was his mother's caregiver, he was older than his years, and he had this gigantic heart. He was open and honest and respectful. His relationship with Eden just seemed so healthy, and I love seeing teen romance like this.

I am warning you - the ending was not all nice and tidy, but there were enough lovely things set in motion for me to be satisfied.

Overall: A beautifully told and compelling story examining the complexities of family, love, and friendship.

**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

Fragile Like Us
Sara Barnard
Series: Beautiful Broken Things, #1
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
A pitch perfect novel about friendship and what it takes to break the bonds between friends, “for fans of Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen” (VOYA).

Caddy and Rosie have always been inseparable. But that was before Suzanne. Now the twosome has become a triangle with constantly shifting alliances.

Caddy’s ready to be more than just the quiet one. She wants something to happen. Suzanne is trying to escape her past and be someone different, someone free. But sometimes downward spirals have a momentum of their own. And no one can break your heart like a best friend.
Upon turning 16, Caddy set out to accomplish three "milestones" before her next birthday:
  1. I would get a boyfriend. A read one.
  2. I would lost my virginity.
  3. I would experience a Significant Life Event.
What she didn't expect was for Suzanne to enter the picture and change her whole world.

First and foremost, this was a story about friendship. In the author's note, Barnard talks about how this was a story about love without romance, and she definitely accomplished that. The bond shared between Caddy and Rosie ran deep. They had known each other since they were small, and have stood by each other for many years. They were the type of friends, who knew what you needed before you asked for it, and they were the type of friends, who could also weather a storm.

The storm came in the form of Suzanne. She was bright and shiny and new, and essentially, everything Caddy wasn't. But slowly, Caddy forms a bond with Suzanne, and their friendship begins to flourish. However, Suzanne was struggling with and trying to outrun her past, and she sort of sucked Caddy into it. This all resulted in a lot of growth and change for Caddy.

There were a few really interesting things explored in this book. First, the fragile nature of a friendship. Rosie and Caddy seemed to have a really solid one, but introduce a new element, Suzanne, and they hit a few bumps in the road. Then, there was Suzanne's abuse. I got a good idea about how it affected Suzanne, but Barnard also examined how it affected her loved ones. Caddy, Rosie, Suzanne's aunt, and her brother were all impacted in some way, because they all cared for and loved Suzanne.

As far as the characters are concerned, I found Caddy relatable and, I loved Rosie from the beginning. It took me a while to embrace Suzanne, because her antics and destructive nature were had to swallow. I understood why she was the way she was, and I was sympathetic to what she had suffered, but watching her spiral out, and take others with her, was tough.

While Rosie had a very loving family, and Caddy was lucky enough to have a great sister, Suzanne was surrounded by adults, and also Caddy, who enabled her self destructive behaviors. I know they were acting out of love, but I couldn't understand how she was left in her home for as long as she was or how she was not under a doctor's care. She had suffered a very traumatic experience, and they thought it would all go away by her moving to a new town? One of the messages in this book was that love sometimes meant saying no, when it was what was best for that person. It just took some of the characters a longer time than others to realize that.

So, that was sort of rant, but don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book. It was emotional, messy, and at times, quite heartwarming. There were a lot of bright spots mixed in with all the chaos and sadness, and I was really pleased with how the characters grew over the course of the book.

And, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the not tidy ending. There were some high points, but also a few ends left untied. BUT GUESS WHAT? There is a sequel coming out this year, which catches up with the girls two years after this book ends. I know I really want to read the book, and make sure that everyone is doing well.

Have you read any Sara Barnard books?
Let us know in the comments!

22 comments:

  1. These both sound like worthy reads but it’s Goodbye, Perfect that really catches my attention. It’s easy to think that Eden’s past/home life would taint her present relationships. And with her being slow to trust she would certainly feel betrayed by her friend. And Connor sounds like a total sweetheart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connor was the perfect soft boy. Gosh! He was all sorts of wonderful. The special thing about Goodbye, Perfect was watching Eden change over the course of the story, because she experienced so much positive growth.

      Delete
  2. They both sound good, but I am not a fan of the endings. They might frustrate me! Still I like that they both look at relationships and some in depth stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both endings were ok. I didn't flip out. I wanted more from Fragile, but there is a follow up and knowing that is enough for me right now.

      Delete
  3. I hope the sequel makes up for any shortcomings.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love beautiful soft boys in stories Sam!!! Sophie @bewareofthereader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connor was one of the best I have had the pleasure of meeting.

      Delete
  5. Hmm -- the first book was already on my TBR, and I just added the second. However, I'm a little hesitant about Fragile Like Us, because I don't like it when adults encourage or ignore problematic behaviors. I know it happens, but I wonder sometimes how people can be so clueless. You said she suffered something very traumatic, and most people would know that simply moving wouldn't solve all of the problems. I'll definitely keep it in mind! It seems like they eventually learn what they need to.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just love Barnard's storytelling. She gets me in the feels, and she writes these great female-centric stories. All have complicated relationships, but they all serve a purpose. Like I said, I struggled a bit with Suzanne's family, but this was a family affected by abuse, so I tried to empathize with them.

      Delete
  6. I'm planning to read Goodbye, Perfect next week so I'm glad to hear it's another great read from Sara Barnard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoyed it. The friend's story was disturbing for me, but since more of the focus was on Eden and her personal journey, I still enjoyed it immensely.

      Delete
  7. I've never heard of this author, but both these books sound really good! I'm glad you enjoyed them so much! The relationships in Goodbye, Perfect sound great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I fell in love with Barnard last year, when I read A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and am now a fan.

      Delete
  8. I am a Sara Barnard virgin. Been hearing good things so I've been wanting to read one of her books in the future. Looks like both these books have a strong focus in friendships and I love that. Both also have not-so-neat endings but I think I am okay with that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is still my favorite, because she captured first love so, so well in that book, but these were both great reads for me too.

      Delete
  9. I've never read any Sara Barnard, I saw her YA books coming out as I was starting to drift from reading YA. I've heard many good things and I love that a UKYA author is making it out there. She writes the kind of YA I think I'd enjoy about friendship and characters finding out who they are. Both of these books sound really good and I might have to put in a request at the library and see if I can enjoy some YA again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You actually had all her books first on your side of the pond. All her books are set in England too. Her stories are lovely and leave me warm and fuzzy.

      Delete
  10. I recently read a book about the foster care system and it kind of opened my eyes to how horrible being in the system can be. I know and have been in contact with people who foster kids, and have au paired foster kids before especially those who 'no one ends up fostering' - but they have all been of a very young age. No teens. And it is kind of horrifying to be hit with the reality that a lot of people have to face. And so sad :( I think I want to read Goodbye Perfect and learn more about it. Fragile Like Us sounds like one that is going to hit me hard because of a personal situation I went through which sounds like it has similarities to the plot of the book.

    I have Beautiful Broken Things by Barnard on my shelf to read. I am going to read it next since I enjoyed A Quiet Kind of Thunder so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The foster care system is definitely not a perfect system, but I do love hearing the success stories, which is what happened in Goodbye, Perfect. Fragile has a lot of really heavy moments, but the friendships shine. AQKoT is still my favorite, but these were good too.

      Delete
  11. Lovely reviews! I recently read Goodbye, Perfect just as well and really enjoyed it. I feel like Sara Barnard really knows how to capture teenagers' voices in her stories and I love that about her. I can't wait to read more from her, will need to read Fragile Like Us at some point :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. Her teens are believable, and I hope to get my hands on her new book sooner than later, because it's the sequel to Fragile Like Us. I need to know how those girls made out .

      Delete