Monday, May 7, 2012

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker
ARC received from Bloomsbury via Netgalley
Release Date:  5-22-2012
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sister’s Say:  A heartfelt story about hope and healing.
Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to. 

I haven’t read too many contemporary novels because usually I start one and a few chapters in I want to stop because they are too depressing or too whiney, so when I started Unbreak My Heart, I was sure I was going to want to stop reading it at some point.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself smiling at Melissa’s love story, giggling at her ridiculous word play (why knot?), and fuming at the reactions of some of Melissa’s not-so-likeable characters.  Great stories take you through the gamut of emotions, and Melissa’s did just that.

Clementine has fallen in love with her best friend’s boyfriend, and as a result she has become a social outcast.  Then, to make matters worse, her family is dragging her off for a summer of sailing.  Clem thinks the summer is going to be a “summer of exile” but she just might find that exile is not so bad—especially once she meets James.  I really like James—he’s sweet, thoughtful, artsy, and he’s struggling with his own kind of exile.  He’s not my favorite type of young adult boys (I have a thing for the dark and broody), but he is exactly what you would picture when you think of a sweet guy sailing away the summer with his dad.  Although I prefer for my ya guys to be strong, arrogant, and deeply sexy; James really did bring a smile to my face.  He was perfect for this story, and it was fun reading how he rebuilts Clem’s heart. 

My favorite character in this story was Crazy Olive, Clem’s ten-year old little sister.  She’s so vibrant and full of life, and on more than one occasion, puts forth a philosophical statement that sums up how tragic and temporary teenage life and drama can be at times.  She’s the perfect foil to Clem’s depressed personality. 

I really loved the setting for Clem’s road to recovery.  Most of the book takes place on the boat and out on the river, and I love the scenes where Clem and/or James just sit out over the water or on the beach and just relax.  It made me wish I had my own boat that I could use to escape reality.  I could hear the waves, feel the breeze, and smell the freshness.  Clem thinks she’s away from the real world, and I love to see her character grow as she discovers that even on the river, away from her friends and her life, that things can be just as real.

I do wish there would have been more romance, and the book does end abruptly.  I thought Melissa could have spent a little more time giving us some more information, after all the book was really short, only 240 pages.

Final Judgment:  Melissa Walker creates a heartwarming story that chronicles the ups and downs of teenage friendship and love.  Torment meets healing in this tale of discovery and romance.