Beautiful Broken Things was Sara’s debut novel and my first introduction to her as an author, it was published in 2016. It’s overall theme is about the complexities of friendship, especially when an existing friendship is threatened by a new person.
Not only is it beautifully written, it is also incredibly relatable especially as a former teenage girl, although everyone at one time or another have struggled with the visible line between being a good friend and protecting yourself.
It’s portrayal of depression in Suzanne is not one dimentational. You as the reader not only feels sympathic towards her, it is also allows you to become angry and disappointed in the decisions she makes, because Sara portrays Suzie as primarily as a girl with flaws just like everybody else, rather than a ‘perfect girl’ who happens to suffer from a mental illness.
A Quite Kind of Thunder is my favourite of Sara’s novel as it perfectly describes the struggles of having anxiety, which is incredibly difficult thing to do. As more often than not author’s like their characters to have a specific reason for a mental illness such as a bereavement or abuse, whereas in reality there is often not a singular reason or a reason at all.
“Now is not the time. But panic doesn’t care about stakes or context. It is loud and immediate and profoundly, all-encompassingly selfish. It has swallowed all my thoughts and my heartbeat and my breath. There is no one to rescue me.”
It’s primarily a love story between Steffi and Rhys (who is deaf) which develops over their first year of sixth form. It is wonderful to read a novel where two disabled characters are able to have a normal adolescent relationship.
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2LfpCaO
Goodbye, Perfect is a story that challenges preconceptions and stereotypes as it questions society’s treatment and expections for good ‘solid, loyal straight-A’ girls. While highlighting the joys of adoption and the difficult dynmaics among family.
Eden and Bonnie’s friendship evolves over the course of the novel, as Bonnie behavour changes due to being groomed by her music teacher. This causes Eden to evaluate her relationships: primarily with her adoptive sister Valerie and also the nature of her relationship with her boyfriend Connor.
Amazon – https://amzn.to/33JRSIO
Fierce Fragile Hearts is the much desired sequel to Beautiful Broken Things, it resumes with Suzanne returning to Brightion two years later. This time it is written from Suzanne’s perspective which adds greater depth to her struggles with mental health.
‘I remember: terror. A constant, churning terror in my stomach, from the moment we left the house to the moment we got back in it. I’d been so scared I’d do something wrong and make Dad mad. He was in such a good mood, which meant he’d be even angier if I somehow spoilted it. I was so on alert it was phsyically painful.’
Suzanne’s story ends exactly the way you want it too.
Which of Sara Barnard’s novels is your favourite, and why?