Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review: When Reason Breaks, by Cindy L. Rodriguez

When Reason Breaks, Cindy L. Rodriguez book cover
While When Reason Breaks is yet another book that explores teen suicide, it does so in a unique way.

The story is about two teens, Emily and Elizabeth, that both have problems, although very different kinds of problems. Seemingly pretty big problems, since we know at the beginning that one of them is going to attempt to commit suicide. We aren't sure if the attempt is successful, or which girl it is, until the end.

What I found compelling is that it could have been either of these girls. They're both messed up, and teens have become suicidal over a lot less. It's impossible for someone on the outside to know what will drive a person, especially a teen, over that edge. I did suspect one girl throughout the book, and I won't tell you why. I was correct, but it really isn't a contest. Is it the one that seems OK, but inside is being torn apart? Or, is it the one that is volatile and wears her problems for all to see?

The two girls have some overlapping friends, but they really aren't close. I got a vibe from their relationship that they had some history. Almost like they used to be close, but something happened. That didn't turn out to be the case. And that's the number one problem I had with When Reason Breaks. I just didn't think some of the teen behaviors were authentic. The reactions and voices didn't ring true. I'll give you a vague example, so as not to spoil anything. The part about the possible lesbian feelings. Just .... no. The reaction from the other teens is unexpected and illogical. I can't see that happening. There were other times when I just felt like, "that's not what he would have said." Or, "she wouldn't have done that." Not that I'm an expert on teens, but I deal with them every day, and I just thought some reactions were a bit staged.

There is some romance which is subtle and adds to the story without overpowering it.

The girls and most of their friends are in an English class that is studying the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I'm not very familiar with her poetry or her life, but it was interesting how Rodriguez wove the story around this poetry. It was quite beautifully done. The author lists all the book's connections to Dickinson's life and work in her note at the end, which makes it even better.

The suicidal teen is writing a journal throughout the narrative, which gives the book a 13 Reasons Why vibe, and it was well done. I really appreciated the ending. Not all rosy, but hopeful and realistic.

Teens who want an edgy contemporary story that is very easy to read but also beautifully told should be pointed to When Reason Breaks.

Published by Bloomsbury USA, February 10, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
304 pages

Rating: 4/5

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a very intense read and good. I think I need to bump this up on my tbr reads.


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