Unbreak My HeartFeaturedHot
Clem was such an easy main character to connect with, as a lot of things about her just reminded me of things in my life. James is pretty much the most adorable guy ever - seriously, where can I find one like that? I loved how spunky and fun Olive was - she was so funny!
The plot was so heartbreaking and touching at the same time. I loved the alternating chapters - they both had so much story to tell and I couldn't wait to read more to find out exact what had happened to Clem. Clem and Jame's story was so easy to fall in love with, and it was so lighthearted and nice, despite the happenings that are kind of haunting both of them this summer.
I was so sad to see this one end - I wish it had went on a little longer. This was just the perfect book to read on a nice summer day, and definitely made me want to go boating again!
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker was an awesome read. I love her writing, her characters, and the stories she shares with readers. Unbreak My Heart is a book you will be sad to miss! Melissa Walker is just a master of contemporary, and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.
Lifelong friendship, true love, the ultimate betrayal, and crushing heartbreak. "Unbreak My Heart" has it all, reminding us that while you may be able to choose your friends, you can't necessarily choose who you fall in love with or help who gets hurt in the process.
Sixteen year old Clementine, or Clem was supposed to have the best summer EVER with Amanda, her BFF since kindergarten but all that changed at the end of Sophomore year. Now, she's spending the entire three months at sea with her family aboard their boat, "The Possibility". Here she'll be subjected to their overenthusiastic nautical attitudes (Ahoy Matey!) and their sympathetic eyes that tell her, "Everything will be OK." If they only knew...
Clem would love nothing more than to stay locked in her stateroom all summer where she can listen to sad music while flipping through her journal that replays everything that's happened over the past few months. Going above deck and interacting with her family or anyone else for that matter doesn't hold any interest for her but may be exactly what she needs to help heal her broken heart.
She's spent most of her time reliving the last year and wondering what, if anything she could've changed. She and Amanda have been friends forever and she would never do anything to purposely hurt her. Clem never expected to fall for Ethan but he was her friend too and everything seemed to be fine, until it wasn't. Until their conversations seemed to be more comfortable, their chats lasting longer than they should. Clem knows she should've put an end to things and she did tried once or twice but should she have tried harder? Could she have even if she wanted too? It doesn't matter now because once Amanda found out, Clem was the one everyone hated. She was treated as if it was all her fault, even Ethan came out looking like a victim though he played as much a part in it as she did. How is THAT even fair?!
So, here she is stuck on this stupid boat with her family all.summer.long. with nothing to do but pine away for what she's lost. The tides begin to change when they make their first marina stop and Clem and her sister Olive head into the dock deli for snacks. It's there that they bump into James (literally) a tall red-headed boy with eyes as blue as the water and a great sense of humor. Seems he's spending his summer on a boat with his dad and they're following the same route as Clem and her family are. (Hmm, maybe the summer won't be so bad after all.) James is funny, sweet and he's kind to all the ladies, young and old alike. *swoon* He's also an artist who captures the realness of Clem in his very first sketch of her. He always seems to be in an good mood no matter what which is kinda irritating to Clem at first but his smile makes cracking one herself virtually unavoidable.
As James and Clem get to know each other, at their many marina stops, dock delis and dingy rides, she begins to gain a new focus on all that's happened to her recently. James can sense the sadness in Clem but she's reluctant to tell him what it is for fear that he'll think she's an awful person (like she's convinced herself she is). She enjoys spending time with him, realizing that he's helping to heal the broken pieces of her heart by reminding her of what's "real". So when Clem finally musters up the nerve to tell James everything that's she's done and he grows distant she wonders if her heart break all over again?
"Unbreak My Heart" is about a girl who follows her heart and in the process loses more than just herself. Her feelings of guilt overwhelm her at times and blind her to the good that still exists within her. But with the help of her family and a few new friends, she not only finds her way back to who she is but she also discovers that what matters most in life, what's right in front of you, is what's real.
*Personal Thoughts/Potential Spoilers:
*Clem's parents and Olivia do their best to support her, pointing out that while she made a mistake, she's not entirely to blame and that if her friends are truly her friends they will stick by her through this. They are patient with her and supportive, reminding her of "who" she is to them. I LOVED that about them! *sniff*
*Her dad also explains that at sixteen, no one "belongs" to anyone which is so true.
*James - Oh, James... I *hearts* him!
*Ethan (not sure how I feel about him...) He was just as much to blame as Clem was for not putting a stop to what was developing between them and it wasn't fair AT ALL that she was the only one vilified but that's how high school is unfortunately.
*Amanda seemed a little self centered to me. The fact that she took Ethan back without even hearing Clem's side was so not fair.
Unbreak My Heart is a story about Clementine, who's in love with her best friend's boyfriend. She is forced to go sailing with her family after her friends turn their backs on her. Clem spends the first half of the book being mean to her parents and sister. They forgave her cause she's dealing with a lot of this. Every thing changes when she meets James who's sailing with his dad.
I think I've never read a book with a red-head love interest so this book already gained some points. James is so freaking cute. He loves to draw, talks a lot and smiles all the time which helps Clementine stop thinking about her problems. Well, she finally deals with them after seeing some people aren't so lucky, like her.
Aside from cute love interest I would like to mention Clem's parents. They're an awesome example of busy parents doing a great job raising their kids. They still find the time to talk to their daughters and even take 3 months of work to go sailing. They let Clem blow out her steam, even though she was being rude. I don't think I can remember more than 3 examples of great parenting in YA novels so I was really pleased Melissa Walker gave us a loving and supporting family.
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?
In the beginning the first issue isn't really told. All we know is that Clem is really upset and mad at everyone. Including those who tried to help her, like her family. This is unfortunate because her and all her family members are stuck on the same boat for the entire summer. As the story goes on the reason behind her anger and sadness is revealed. I counted this as a big issue because in the high school world (and even in the real world for that matter) what she does can result in becoming an outcast.
Enter James. Clem randomly meets him at a dock along their family's sailing route. She starts off blowing him off, but as they realize their family is going on the same route she and her sister Olive start to hang out with him. After she lets him in they become fast friends. And soon after that, it becomes clear that there is something else between the two of them. I loved that the romance wasn't instantaneous and it was paced just right. Especially after what she went through before hand. It felt real as he melted her old thoughts of love and replaced them with new ones. After this, Walker brings to light the next big issue the book covers. Something huge ties the two issues together and for a second it left me a little worried. But in the end it all turned out just fine.
This book drives home the definition of friendship and love. It will remind you of all that you have to make you happy and to hold on to it.
I just want to point out something that annoyed me before I gush and fangirl and talk about the deliciousness of this summer love novel.
I get that we all get my mad. We all get angry with ourselves at one point for doing something we didn't expect we'd do. We disappoint people and you can't help but hate yourself... a lot. This is how Clementine feels, the girl with amazing friends and a best friend that just completes her -- that is, until Ethan comes along. She did something that caused her friendship and she beats herself up about it.
But I hate how she has an excuse for the things she says or does when she lashes out on her family. I have problems when people are mad and others try so hard to make them feel better and the person who's hurt starts yelling at the other person for no reason then tells them some petty excuse. Clementine does this a lot and all the time she makes some excuse I think, 'You should not have done what you did when you knew it was wrong. Stop making excuses for yourself. Take responsibility.' Yes, sometimes we just can't help it and control ourselves, we're all imperfect humans so it happens, which is the reason why I wasn't going to put the book down.
Okay, now that my point has been crossed... OHMYGOD THIS BOOK WAS SO ADORABLY CUTE. It gave me this feeling like I got from reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I love the sea, I love romance, and I love boats, so after reading the description I just had to get my hands on this. It has what we need, including humour. I hate that it ended! WHY DID THIS BOOK HAVE TO BE 231 PAGES, WALKER!? I will never forgive you for that.
I really hate saying 'Clem' because it makes me think about a part from our body *cringes*, so I have to write 'Clementine'. After the terrible-awful thing Clementine has done, she sets sail with her little sister, Olive; as well as her mother and father. If Clementine still had her friends, she would have done anything to stay at home and spend her summer with them, but she is forced to aboard The Possibility because she has nothing else to do and wants to 'find' herself. On her journey, she meets James, a boy who sailing the same route as she is. He's always smiling, always energetic and Clementine's depression is lifted a little bit. Little does she know, James has a story that needs to be told, too.
It's so hard for me to write this review without spoiling anything. Just read it, please. Unbreak my heart is the story of true friendship and love.
Clementine - Eliott Smith
Whoever She Is - The Maine
Into Your Arms - The Maine
ARC received from Bloomsbury via Netgalley
Release Date: 5-22-2012
Reviewed by: Middle Sis Jenn
The Sister’s Say: A heartfelt story about hope and healing.
I haven’t read too many contemporary novels because usually I start one and a few chapters in I want to stop because they are too depressing or too whiney, so when I started Unbreak My Heart, I was sure I was going to want to stop reading it at some point. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself smiling at Melissa’s love story, giggling at her ridiculous word play (why knot?), and fuming at the reactions of some of Melissa’s not-so-likeable characters. Great stories take you through the gamut of emotions, and Melissa’s did just that.
Clementine has fallen in love with her best friend’s boyfriend, and as a result she has become a social outcast. Then, to make matters worse, her family is dragging her off for a summer of sailing. Clem thinks the summer is going to be a “summer of exile” but she just might find that exile is not so bad—especially once she meets James. I really like James—he’s sweet, thoughtful, artsy, and he’s struggling with his own kind of exile. He’s not my favorite type of young adult boys (I have a thing for the dark and broody), but he is exactly what you would picture when you think of a sweet guy sailing away the summer with his dad. Although I prefer for my ya guys to be strong, arrogant, and deeply sexy; James really did bring a smile to my face. He was perfect for this story, and it was fun reading how he rebuilts Clem’s heart.
My favorite character in this story was Crazy Olive, Clem’s ten-year old little sister. She’s so vibrant and full of life, and on more than one occasion, puts forth a philosophical statement that sums up how tragic and temporary teenage life and drama can be at times. She’s the perfect foil to Clem’s depressed personality.
I really loved the setting for Clem’s road to recovery. Most of the book takes place on the boat and out on the river, and I love the scenes where Clem and/or James just sit out over the water or on the beach and just relax. It made me wish I had my own boat that I could use to escape reality. I could hear the waves, feel the breeze, and smell the freshness. Clem thinks she’s away from the real world, and I love to see her character grow as she discovers that even on the river, away from her friends and her life, that things can be just as real.
I do wish there would have been more romance, and the book does end abruptly. I thought Melissa could have spent a little more time giving us some more information, after all the book was really short, only 240 pages.
Final Judgment: Melissa Walker creates a heartwarming story that chronicles the ups and downs of teenage friendship and love. Torment meets healing in this tale of discovery and romance.
Let me just say that Walker certainly knows how to write a good teen character. Though I’ve never been through anything like Clem went through I could completely relate to a lot of her thoughts. In the first 1/3 of the book when all she wants to do is sulk and feels as if she deserves the self-punishment? So been there. When she snaps at her parents and sister because they won’t just give her some room? Been there too. When she has those happy moments with her family that make it seem like they aren’t so bad? Definitely been there. Clem is a character that I could completely relate to despite the fact that we had very little in common which I loved.
Of course, there’s a romance aspect. It’s nowhere near the focal point of the story, though. It’s more like the nice the sprinkles on top of your cupcake, though. It’s pretty and fun, but it isn’t what’s at the heart of the story. When you get right down to it, this is a story of a girl whose completely broken inside and spends the summer picking up all the pieces and putting herself together again. It’s a story about loss and friendship and family. And it’s a story about the magic of summer.
The Nutshell: Unbreak My Heart is more than just a story about summer love. If you’re looking for a good summer read, you’ll definitely find it here. You’ll also find a story about a girl learning to forgive and love herself again, a story about families, and a story about what happens when black and white seem to blur.
So, first my schpeal on cheating. It's really not okay and I hate when characters do it. It's never ago and it frustrates me. However, in this book? It made a good point. Technically, Clem was never REALLY cheating with her best friend's boyfriend. Of course, it was still wrong, but was it as bad as I thought at first? Nope. And this book also raised the good point: Why is she the only one at fault? This wasn't a one-sided thing, the boyfriend was just as much at fault as Clem. Yet he's forgiven and still dating Clem's best friend, but Clem can't even get her best friend to talk to her. Why is this fair? Why do we treat the two so differently? They both did an equally bad thing, so how can we punish them differently? It was a good question, and I'm glad Melissa Walker looked at it.
At first Clem bothered me. Yeah, I got that she was upset and needed to be brought out of it. She was just so horrible to her family and they only wanted to help. But she developed a lot. She grew up a lot. She started to move on and then I really liked her. She was nice and fun and just a good person. I liked meeting this Clem a whole lot more.
And James? James was freaking awesome. He was a genuinely good guy. He was goofy and happy and lovely and I just wanted to hug this kid so badly. Also, I want to see his hair color. Because it sounded interesting. The romance was fun and adorable and just so cute. I didn't want it to end. James and Clem are simply fantastic, guys.
One of my favorite things about this book, beside the romance and the characters, was the fact that there was so much more. Clem and James both had family issues and that was a big part of the plot. Probably a bigger portion than the romance. I liked seeing the different problems and how they were dealt with. And I really appreciated the fact that Unbreak My Heart had a lot of layers.
Overall, Unbreak My Heart was pretty freaking amazing. It had romance, awesome characters, development, family issues, friend issues, good questions...a ton of aspects that make a great novel. Sometimes it was light and fun, but sometimes it was a bit deeper. Definitely one to pick up this summer!
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!
I'M NOT SURE I WANT TO READ A BOOK THAT DEALS WITH CHEATING
I know you’re thinking it. We all thought it when we picked up this book. But, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker isn’t what you would expect. Walker doesn’t paint Clem as unrepentant and intentionally negligent of her friend’s feelings. The whole incident makes Clem sick inside, and she’s so ashamed she’s shouldered ALL the blame. Which is totally not right considering it takes to two to boogie and shizz. She’s lost not just her best friend, but also her band of comrades, the butthole boy, and everyone at her school is torn between outright disapproval and dissing the boy and her best friend. None of which makes her feel good, OBVS.
This story could’ve been so typical. Walker could’ve wrote about it happening and the girl’s guilt but how it feels so right and all that. Instead she wrote about the Other Girl, the one that did the Thing We Can’t Stand, and her emotional recovery. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker tells the story of the girl who fell in love for the first time with her best friend’s boyfriend, lied about it, breached boundary lines, and berates herself for it every day, inflicts injury and insult all by herself because there’s nobody more ashamed than she is. Walker shows us that not all cheaters are evil, heartless bishes or buttholes but real people who screw up HARD and can do nothing but move forward despite their mistakes. Because nobody has to live with what was done more than them, and suffer for it as deeply.
CLEM AND JAMES
THESE. TWO. There’s something so real and honest and sweet in what Clem and James begin over their summer away from home, living on a boat. Clem is happy to be away from her home but now she’s trapped with her guilt. And James, all smiles James, has got his fair share of heart bruises as well. That alone makes them relatable. We all have our pitfalls and downright lows and they both come through the hurts of the past and recover. All the way, and together.
James is in subtle pursuit of Clem, and she’s not having it. She’s a cheater, a destroyer of worlds and angsty teen relationships. She’s a monster, and she shouldn’t be happy, especially with another boy. One who’s cute and cheerful and thoughtful. One who notices her sad eyes and the shape of her mouth at the same time. One who smacks into her with a cart full of bananas on first sight. They hang out, they laugh, they share, and it turns into something balanced by fluff and soberness, and is tempered by kindness and understanding.
IS THIS AN ISSUES BOOK?
There are tons of issues going on here. Betrayal, divorce, loss, guilt, and so much more. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker, however, isn’t about enduring or experiencing them; the story is about letting it all go, forgiving, and moving on as best as possible. Wallowing in guilt or anger or self-loathing for a while, and then recovering from the gamut of emotions that play when reality hits like a brick, and a solid and patient support system to help speed up said recovery.
THIS PACKS A PUNCH FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT
Only about two hundred something pages, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker is impactful without really trying to be and in so short a time. It shares a truth we didn’t acknowledge before—the betrayer isn't always selfish and intentionally cruel—and gives us so much more about emotions, tough pasts, and people as a whole. There’s comedy, intervention, secrets, sailing, and electric kisses to make up this insightful, hopeful summer read.
Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 5/17/12