Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

2009
07.05

broken soupEverything in fifteen-year-old Rowan’s life has felt broken since the death of her older brother Jack two years ago. After Jack’s fatal accident, her father left, her mother sank into a sleeping pill stupor and her little sister Stroma came to depend on Rowan utterly. Now Rowan’s days are an endless round of school, caring for Stroma and pretending that she’s got everything under control. Then gentle drifter Harper comes into her life. Touring around Europe in an old ambulance-turned-RV, Harper meets Rowan when he hands her a photo negative he says she dropped outside a grocery in her London suburb. Rowan’s never seen the negative before, but it seems easier to accept it than argue with a stranger. Then Bee, a pretty, friendly girl a few years ahead of Rowan in school, offers to develop the film–which astonishingly turns out to be a picture of Jack. Grieving Rowan is shocked and confused. Where did the negative come from? And if she didn’t drop it, then who did? Rowan needs answers, and the logical person to ask is Harper. Though he isn’t much help with the photo, their chance encounter begins to blossom into a romance. Meanwhile, Rowan has found a soul mate in Bee, who also has a younger sib and helps Rowan take care of Stroma. Still, the mystery of the photo nags at Rowan and as her new relationships deepen, she uncovers a hidden interconnectedness between herself, Harper, Bee and Jack that gives her hope—just as her life takes another unexpected turn. I love everything about this little gem of a book, from the evocative title and the articulate writing, to the air of romantic mystery and the riveting and incredibly satisfying conclusion. Some of Valentine’s statements about grieving just floored me with their brutal honesty. Like this one about Rowan’s parents: “After Jack died, they protected themselves by refusing to love us, the kids who still had dying to do.” Ouch! And whoa! For as quiet as this book is sometimes, Valentine knows how to get and keep your attention with sentences like that, and with the slow revealing of clues about Jack’s photo that keep you guessing. If you liked Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer or Marthe Jocelyn’s Would You, you’re gonna want to serve yourself an extra big helping of Jenny Valentine’s delicious, devastating Broken Soup. (1 weepie)

10 Responses to “Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine”

  1. Megan says:

    This looks amazing and I just requested it from my local library, however I noticed something. Under Teen Tearjerkers I don’t see how many Weepies you rated it as? For some reason I’m just really curious…

  2. Jen Hubert says:

    Oh gosh, Megan, thanks for the reminder–better edit that post!

  3. Jessica says:

    I read this book as an ARC for School Library Journal and loved it. At first, I didn’t really understand the title, but it makes sense if you keep reading. It was one of those books that kind of creeps up on you and makes a big impact. Definitely worth reading.

  4. Trisha says:

    I loved this book!

    So glad to see another rave review of it.

  5. Shannon says:

    This sounds like a smilliar style to Sarah Dessen. Does it have any similarities? I love Sarah Dessen. If not, then could you say another author the style is close to?

  6. Jen Hubert says:

    Sure, check out books by Jenny Han and Justina Chen Headley.

  7. Courtney says:

    I loved this book!! it was a little slow in the beggining but then it just got really good and everything tied in great

  8. Courtney .W. says:

    i haven’t read this book yet. im really looking forward to it though. ive requested at a local library to see if they can get it in for me.

  9. Dara says:

    hey, just wanted to say i LUV ur reviews and u have some rele great books on here that i have read and loved–i cant wait to read this one..i love teen tearjerkers books for some reason i just rele like books that make me cry, because they also make me think

  10. Caz says:

    I love this book i have read it over and over again i think they should make it into a film though does any one agree???

Your Reply

Contact

Jen Hubert Swan
Librarian, Book Reviewer,
Reading Addict
swampophelia27@yahoo.com