I received an ARC from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Year We Fell Apart
Author: Emily Martin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
There have been quite a few young adult books lately that focus on cancer or some sort of life altering disease. The Year We Fell Apart is a uniquely different book that contains a character who has cancer, yet doesn’t evolve around this theme. This novel is very realistic and relatable with a main character who is definitely not perfect. Also, the theme of friendship is explored beautifully by Martin in this debut novel.
One of the greatest features about The Year We Fell Apart is the realistic portrayal of the characters and the main character’s mother’s cancer. For instance, the details surrounding the diagnosis of the cancer and the ongoing treatment that Harper’s mother endures are very believable. Even the depictions of the side-effects she experiences are portrayed accurately. However, cancer is not the main idea of the story, which makes it compelling because we are seeing the story unfold through the eyes of Harper.
Harper is a perfect main character in The Year We Fell Apart because she is both relatable and extremely flawed. She makes so many poor choices and big mistakes that are honestly very cringe-worthy. Also, Harper destroys so many of her relationships throughout the novel that she becomes a dislikable character. As the book progresses, however, Harper makes many realizations and her actions become quite admirable.
Another enjoyable aspect of The Year We Fell Apart is the theme of friendship that is presented by Martin. As Harper grows and becomes self-aware, the friends that she needs and searches for become the focus of the story as opposed to a romantic relationship. I appreciated this so much as I was reading because the importance of friends is a message that is often brushed to the side so that the character can focus on a love interest in some young adult novels. This was so refreshing!
The Year We Fell Apart is a very realistic book with a flawed main character who slowly learns how to change her ways. This book is all about friendship, which will inspire and enlighten many readers. Fans of Jenny Han will definitely enjoy The Year We Fell Apart.