Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review + Playlist: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

The Year We Fell Apart
by Emily Martin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Rate: 4 out of 5 stars
In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.

It's been a while since I read a really well written Contemporary Young Adult book, so The Year We Fell Apart was a welcome experience. Beautiful writing, believable characters, and just enough twisty issues to make everything interesting. I have to say, Emily Martin stole my heart. I powered through this in just a few hours and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now, keep in mind that this is definitely aimed at the YA crowd. If you can't settle yourself into the headspace of a teen, with all the crazy emotions and potentially bad decisions that come along with that, you probably won't be able to get into this book. See, Harper is definitely flawed. Just like all the rest of us are. It's actually one of the things I loved most about her character. While I didn't always love her for the choices she made, it was the fact that she was ultimately human that made me smile. Hell, we've all chosen made poor choices. We've all pushed that one person away who could have built us back up. It's a part of growing up.

In fact, what impressed me most was how expertly Emily Martin navigated the pitfalls of being a teenager who is still feeling their way in the world. Harper has to face one of the scariest things highschoolers ever face, and that's a reputation. One bad decision. One case of poor judgement, and Harper is forever labeled a "slut". The fact that Martin showed the pain that Harper was suffering and where that all stemmed from, only hammered home the fact that it was ultimately Harper's decision. Wrong or not, she didn't deserved to be judged so harshly. But she was. That's high school.

When you pile on a mother with an illness, a former best friend who disappeared and might be something more, and trying to add new friends to the mix? Well, it's no surprise that this whole story is a jumble of emotions. I felt for Harper. I've been in her shoes. Lots of people have. Which is why it's easy to relate to her, even when she's being a bit over-dramatic. Again, teenage hormones. They're hell.

There were only a few things that knocked this down a star for me, the main two being that I really wanted Harper's friend Sadie to disappear and the whole romance with Declan was never really resolved. Sadie was a terrible influence. I think Sadie was there to give a possible reason why Harper may have made the choices that she did, but truth be told I really wished she'd wise up and ditch her. As for Declan, well he was ultimately hot and cold. I know not every story can have a happy ending, but I think Harper deserved one. Or, at the very least, the concept that you can go through hell and come out whole on the other side needed to be emphasized. Something, to make it all worth while.

Overall, I enjoyed this read though! I'd say that if you're a fan of Contemporary YA, you probably will too.

Here are some songs that I think absolutely fit this book. I listened to them while I read, and I'll tell you that they definitely enhanced the book!

"Heal" by Tom Odell
"Broken Ones" by Jacquie Lee
"Let It Go" by James Bay
"Dark Paradise" by Lana Del Rey
"Start Again" by Conrad Sewell
"Like We Used To" by A Rocket to the Moon

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Follow the The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Emily Martin lives and writes in the Greater Boston area, though she will always call Michigan home. She has a penchant for impromptu dance parties, vintage clothing, and traveling to new places. When not writing, she can be found hiking New England’s peaks, searching for the perfect cup of hot chocolate, or baking something pumpkin-flavored.

Emily’s debut young adult novel, THE YEAR WE FELL APART, comes out January 26, 2016 from Simon Pulse.

Her work is represented by Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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