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A Reader of Fictions: Clementine - Elliott Smith

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Clementine - Elliott Smith

Unbreak My Heart

Author: Melissa Walker
Pages: 231
eGalley Acquired from: Bloomsbury via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: " 'Sit on it,' I say."

When Unbreak My Heart first appeared on NetGalley, I actually didn't request it. I haven't read any of Walker's prior novels, I don't have much history reading contemporaries, and I have a very black and white view of cheating in relationships. All of that told me this might not be the book for me. I went back and requested it when I saw some very favorable reviews roll into the blogosphere.

As I started reading, I was initially regretful of that decision. The opening of the book is so mopey and nothing really happens. All Clem thinks about is the horrible thing she's done, which slowly unfolds in front of the reader. Every other chapter goes into the past (at least until that's all explained). The others are about her summer, in which her family (mom, dad, little sister, and herself) sail down rivers on a boat. I really wondered how Walker was going to pull off a book where the characters are stuck on a boat.

Thankfully, the book picked up the more you learn about the past, and the better you get to know the other people taking this same boating trip. I know absolutely nothing about boating. Honestly, I had no clue people could take a sailing trip like this down rivers. Color me surprised. Early on, they meet four other people who are on the same timeline and route they are (an old couple, and a father and son).

The cheating aspect of the story, the frame of it, never really coalesced with me. It mostly made me angry in a way I was not expecting. Clem has become a social outcast because she fell for her best friend's boyfriend. That's bad, for sure. I mean, having those feelings and not confessing definitely violates the 'hos before bros' pact. What's incredibly NOT cool (slight spoiler) is that Clem didn't even initiate anything and yet she is the one who becomes a social pariah. Her best friend even takes the guy back. All we see of the friendship is them keeping secrets from one another. And, so far as I can glean, Amanda doesn't really even seem to like Ethan that much, so I have a lot of trouble figuring out why she would want him back, unless it's to prove something.

I think that my biggest issue was with Amanda's character. It might have helped to have better context for their friendship. We learn very little about Clemanda pre-Ethan. As it was, I never got a great sense of Amanda as a person. She seems to be a showoff. Clem definitely suffers from an inferiority complex, since Amanda is the kind of person everyone likes and can have any guy she likes. Amanda's also strange for not having been more afraid of Clem and Ethan happening, since they have this crazy obvious chemistry, and she even encourages them to go on a date. That's just weird.

What really worked in this novel were the character relationships. I loved how real Clem's family felt. The mother with her crazy cookbook, the dad with his hat, and, most especially, adorable annoyance Olive. It's so obvious how much Clem's family cares for her. They give her space for a while and they let her know that they're ready to listen when she can talk about it. They put up with a surprising number of tantrums with good grace. When she finally confesses what she's been so upset about, they are just so sweet and non-judgmental.

I also can't leave this review without talking about the adorableness of James. He may be one of the most genuinely sweet guys in YA literature. Girls, let me just say that you want a guy like this, not an Edward or a Jacob or a Noah. You want someone real who will never try to change you or tell you what to do. He has advice, sure, but he doesn't pressure you. Plus, he's a ginger. Oh, how I love redheads. He is cute, upbeat, and funny, and their chemistry is so moving.

Unbreak My Heart is well-written and touching, despite the slow start. There's a lot to be learned from Clem's story. I see more Melissa Walker in my reading future!

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: " 'You can't beat yourself up anymore,' he says. 'And you can't compare your thing to my thing or to anyone else's thing on the how-bad-should-I-feel? scale.' "

"You did anything to pass the time
And keep that song out of your mind
'Oh my darling
Oh my darling
Oh my darling Clementine
Dreadful sorry, Clementine'

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Blogger Nori said...

I got this one right away on NG. I still need to read it. Mostly I got it though, I think, because the cover is so pretty. I'm not sure if I'm ready for the topic yet.

May 24, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

I bet you'd like Walker's book Lovestruck Summer. Especially because all of your review titles are song titles.

But omg, yes the relationships. I loved Olive soooo much. AND JAMES! What a stand up guy!

May 24, 2012 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Aly said...

My favorite part of this is when she said that she broke her own heart. I was like I LOVE this MC.

July 11, 2012 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm actually not a huge fan of the cover. The pink heart shape is a little much for me.

July 11, 2012 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

James is seriously awesome. It makes me sad that guys like him don't get love in the YA Crush Tourney. Sigh.

July 11, 2012 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I totally didn't focus on that line, but that is awesome. I loved how she took full ownership of what she did. She doesn't try to make excuses or foist blame on anyone else.

July 11, 2012 at 9:28 PM  

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