Review: "Broken Soup" by Jenny Valentine

Author: Jenny Valentine
Genre: Drama, Young Adult/Children, Contemporary
Publication: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Release Date: January 7th 2008
Pages: 256
Spoilers: No, not really.

It was during the period that I just got released from the hospital due to a viral infection on my lungs that I read this book. A good friend of mine, Nikita, got me this book. She borrowed it from a friend and now I got to borrow it. First of all: I read it in Dutch (Gebroken Soep), and second: what the heck is the title meaning? Broken soup? Soup can’t be broken, right? Now that’s something to think about…

“Broken Soup” is about a fifteen year old girl, who’s got to take care of her younger sister Stroma. Her parents are divorced: dad moved out, mom got depressed. Cause: the death of her older brother Jack. And now our main character, Rowan, feels like she has to take care of everyone and everything.

When I started reading, I liked our protagonist, Rowan, right away. But – this I gotta say – I didn’t expect her to be 15 years old. I thought this girl was about 17 or 18 years old, not younger. But she was. And somehow I couldn’t really imagine it, at first. It felt a bit unrealistic to me, but throughout the story I just tried to forget that she was only 15, and it became a more believable story to me.

Then she meets ‘the guy’. Harper. He’s cute, he’s charming and he’s also kind of unbelievable. He moved out, travels around the world and lives in a camper? I’m sorry but he was only eighteen years old… Maybe it’s just me, but it felt a bit surrealistic to me.

BUT. Yes, there’s a but. I loved both of them, despite their ages. I loved how Rowan finally got to be responsible, after reading a lot of YA books in which the protagonist just isn’t very careful. That’s good for a change. And then there’s Bree, whom I loved right away. She’s just funny and she has a secret (oops). Yup.

The story on itself was sooooo good. I loved the fact that there was so much family drama going on. I felt bad for Rowan, for she has to handle it all by herself. But luckily there’s her optimistic baby sister Stroma. By the way, she’s the smartest 6 year old I know. Their relationship is fantastic. And I think Harper fits in perfectly in their story. He’s protective about them, and even though Rowan doesn’t want to admit that right away, that’s exactly what she needs.

Reading my notes about this book, I’m smiling. I wrote down: “Dad is absent, he’s a dick.” Gotta agree with that, right? Okay, he and his ex-wife just divorced so I get that he wants to create some distance. But right now, during the period that Rowan’s mom is still grieving about Jack, he needs to be there for his family. I feel like he knows something is wrong, but he just doesn’t want to admit that. He wants to see rainbows and sunshine, but unfortunately for him, that’s not going to happen.

Reading this book will be a breeze. You’ll finish it in a couple of hours –  even when you’re recovering from a lung infection. Trust me. It’s easy to read, no poetic additions and nothing unnecessary. In this case, it’s the story that matters. The writing style didn’t really stand out to me, but the story did. That’s what kept me reading.

The ending of the book is really heavy and shocking to read. It’s in someways a contrast to the rest of the book, but one could argue it’s a good conclusion. I didn’t expected it to happen, but when it did, I understood it. I was like: yes, okay, I can grasp this.

Should you read it? Yes, definitely! It’s to get away from all the science-fiction power all over the YA book market. The story will stay with you, that’s for sure. It’s not deep, it’s not very literary, but you will love it.

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