A dark and surprising treat!
* Reviewed for North of Normal Book Reviews
BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS by Kim Savage is a dark YA stand-alone mystery with some elements of suspense and fantasy.
Kim Savage is a new author to me. I first saw this book as a recommendation to other readers on one of the various Facebook book groups. The title and cover definitely intrigued me, and since I wanted to be surprised, I went into this book without reading the blurb or any reviews. I am so glad I made that decision!
Teenage sisters, Mia and Francesca Cillo, are beautiful, odd, and over protected by their widowed father. To the teenage boys, the girl’s traits make them seem alluring and untouchable like sirens. A boy named Ben Lattanzi however got to touch seven parts of Mia; her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and heart. After the sisters kill themselves by purposely drowning in the quarry lake, Ben receives a letter in the mail from Mia wherein she invites him to understand why the girls committed suicide. This sets Ben on a quest to the seven places he touched her. In each of those seven places, she has left him a message.
The book opens with one of the best lines I’ve ever read:
When they found Mia Cillo at the bottom of the quarry lake, her fingers were shot through the loose weave of her sister Francesca’s sweater at the neck.
It completely drew me in and told me everything I needed to know about the premise. This story is told in dual POV, from Ben and Mia. It made it really interesting because from Ben’s perspective you get both his present-day quest plus his memories of the girls. From Mia’s perspective you get obviously the past and the disturbing things in her and her sister’s lives that led up to their suicide.
I read this book in two days, devouring the “Who done it?” mystery steeped in Christian stigmata. I badly wanted to blame the girls’ suicide on someone else, and Ben’s perspective provided plenty of blame.
There really is no happy ending to this story, though it is satisfying in that the mystery is very nicely tied up, and the circumstances which drove the girls to their suicide are clear. Though I enjoyed this story as a whole, there were a few aspects that fell short for me. There were a few instances of dialogue that left me scratching my head, wondering who exactly the POV-character was speaking to and that became confusing. There was so many characters, from friends to co-workers, parents, bosses, and even a spiritual advisor, that I think the author could have done a better job at making it clearer to the reader who it was Mia and Ben were engaging with. The second problem for me was an unconnected element of the story. Ben was abused when he was a younger child. This abuse is brought up many times in the story but never really described, and in the end it really didn’t connect well with the main story line. I kept thinking the story would dig into his abuse and somehow Ben’s horrible experience was going to connect with the sisters. Ben being abused as a child could have been left out of this book altogether, and it would have had no impact on the story. That made it feel sort of gratuitous and unnecessary.
This book is so unique that I can’t really compare it to anything I’ve ever read. I think this book will appeal to both adult and YA fans of strange mysteries and suspense.
This novel earns 4 North of Normal Stars!