So here’s the deal: Shy, plain brunette Clementine was best friends with outgoing and popular blond Amanda. But then something bad happened that ruined their friendship, and now Clementine is full of angst and, well…angst. Of course, we don’t know what that something bad is, because Melissa Walker did that too-common thing where the past is withheld until a Big Reveal comes along towards the end. And, of course, the Big Reveal turns out to be a disappointment because Clementine didn’t really do anything super awful like, you know, murder someone in a crime of passion. But in any case, with the help of a sensitive, quirky guy-friend, Clementine learns to accept her past and makes strides toward recovery. The End.
Does any of this sound new? It’s definitely not new to me. Aside from the fact that all of this takes place on a sailboat, Unbreak My Heart could just as easily be any number of YA contemporary novels. I think this book is good, but it’s definitely formulaic. And, like I said, the fact that it bothered me as much as it did is likely due to the sheer volume of books I’ve been reading lately in the genre. Though, seriously, can we please stop with the “mousy and plain brunette heroine” thing?—I’m getting really tired of hearing about how my appearance makes me ugly by default and that I should feel insecure about myself because of my brown hair and brown eyes. It’s insulting and small-minded.
The thing with Clementine is that she’s angsty. Like, seriously angsty. I know a lot of readers enjoy angst and whatnot, but I really don’t. Spending an entire book hearing about how Clementine legitimately believes she’s an awful person who doesn’t deserve to be happy? It’s not my idea of a fun time. For sure, she’s a well-developed character with a realistic personality, but I really don’t like all the self-flagellation that went on in Unbreak My Heart. Okay, we get it—Clem’s upset and she feels guilty. Didn’t need dozens of “I hate myself” monologues, thanks.
And I have more to say about all of this, but I’m cutting myself off, because I’m giving this book three stars. Even though it may not seem like it, I did like Unbreak My Heart and I had fun with it to a certain degree, though it’s not the most exciting book I’ve ever read. So, yeah, this is one of those ranty-ranty review that’s supposed to be positive but isn’t actually. What can you do?