Book Review: Other Broken Things by Christa Desir, reviewed by teen reviewer Lexi
When I read OTHER BROKEN THINGS by Christa Desir, I thought it was one of the most authentic teen voices I had read in a while. And now that we a TLT Teen Advisory Board, I thought I would ask one of them to read it and tell me what they thought. Lexi’s review follows the summary.
Nat’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.
Unfortunately her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.
But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life and things start looking up. Joe is funny, smart, and calls her out in a way no one ever has.
He’s also older. A lot older.
Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she’s been desperate to forget.
Now in order to make a different kind of life, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.
“ Life can be crap sometimes and it’s best you know that early. Then you won’t be surprised when things go to hell. If you recognize nothings perfect, you won’t drink to make it go away, because you realize it never goes away. There’s constant suffering.”
I have never read a book that has ever gotten close to depicting how life can be for a real 17 year old girl.
Natalie struggles through her addiction of not only alcohol but her addiction to everything else she does in place of it. She fights and sometimes she doesn’t win but she still gets back up and continues fighting the battle of living.
I admire the author for this. I admire her because out of every book I’ve read, I’ve never felt like the author had actually remembered what it was like to be a teen.
Every generation is different. It just so happens that my generation is known for our substance abuse and promiscuity. Other Broken Things captures this. This book tells a story that feels all too familiar for me. It’s brutally honest and doesn’t hold back or filter the harsh truths about our youth. The author wrote this book telling a fictional story that could so easily be true for many of us.
And this is why it caught me by surprise that I enjoyed it so much. I read to get away from reality. Reading this book made me think about everything that I experience in a single day of high school. Rather than escaping reality, this book threw me head first into my own. Sometimes I feel like adults forget how hard it is for teens. How much we go through. The crap we put up with everyday from our parents, our friends, and from our teachers. I think adults forget that we are still kids trying to find a way out of the madness and instead of helping they ridicule us because back in their day they made it on their own and they came out just fine. But they forget that we aren’t them and we need guidance for our own path.
Natalie’s story is such a perfect description of these feelings. Her pain and wrong turns could have easily been mine or a friends. This realization stuns me. Her whole story seems to be a representation of people I know. Friends who abuse alcohol or other illegal substances to forget about their stress and about how crappy their lives are. Friends who have gotten abortions because they were too young and still kids themselves to try to raise one. Friends who seek out attention from older guys to replace the love their fathers never gave them.
But Natalie’s story also teaches us a lifesaving lesson: if you’re willing to fight for it, you can make it. Life won’t get better unless you work for it. You can’t change unless you want to. Our mistakes don’t define us. But by acknowledging that we make them will help us learn from them as well.
I think every teen should read this book. Every kid who feels broken. Every girl who feels like they can’t make it. Every boy who feels like giving up. Every and any person who feels like they are the only ones broken, because they’re not.
This book is so painfully honest that it hurts to read at points. But it’s so worth it.
Other Broken Things by Christa Desir will be released by Simon Pulse on January 12th, 2016. She will be sharing a post with us about addiction as part of the #MHYALit Discussion on this day.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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