Release Date - January 26th, 2016
Publisher - Simon Pulse
Purchase - Amazon / B&N
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.
I have to be honest with you and say that it was really the cover of this book that first caught my attention because of my, IT IS BEAUTIFUL! But once I read the synopsis, I realized that it very much sounds like "my kind" of book - contemporary about best friends who might have been and could be more dealing with family drama in a Southern setting. The "in the tradition of Sarah Dessen" line definitely hits home, though it would be unfair to say that this novel is just a Sarah Dessen rip-off, because it definitely isn't that. Emily Martin gives her story and her characters a distinctive voice that makes The Year We Fell Apart a contemporary YA debut definitely worth looking forward to.
Harper, Cory and Declan have done everything together since they were children. As hormones started to kick in, Harper and Declan started to slowly fall in love and for a while, it seemed like everything was perfect. Then Declan's mother died and his father shipped him off to school elsewhere, and suddenly a relationship the two had been building for years started to feel illogical. After Harper and Declan fall out of contact with each other, Harper starts to hang out with a new set of people and does things that she even herself seems to consider as epic mistakes.
When Declan comes back home after two semesters of silence, Harper quickly notices that he has changed. He is taller, more handsome and most importantly, not "her Declan" any longer. But Harper has changed too - her mother's cancer diagnosis has made her want to try and to fix her mistakes, but as the events that unfold show her, changing your habits even if you desperately want it, might not actually be that easy of a task.
I really liked the connection between Declan and Harper and the way Emily Martin builds the relationship between the two quite slowly. There's no instalove or instaromance here and a lot of pages are used to establish the characters and the setting, which reminded me of Sarah Dessen's novels. I would say in many ways The Year We Fell Apart is a "quiet novel" in the sense that there are really no epic or spectacular scenes, but rather the novel feels like something that could happen to you, or to someone you know. Emily Martin succeeds in creating characters that are not one-sided, characters that you can easily feel for, characters that you can connect with.
In addition to being a tale about a new chance in love, The Year We Fell Apart is about forgiveness, friendships and family. Emily Martin brilliantly writer Harper as a flawed character whose actions can seem frustrating, but at the same time, you just get her. She makes mistakes, but I think she tries her best to stop making them. Declan is no prince either and I loved the fact that Martin wasn't afraid to show a side of Declan that might push him away from some readers. I think in general Martin succeeds in telling a tale of two very confused teenagers who are dying to find a connection and happiness despite the mistakes and decisions they have made in the past.
The things Harper goes through really made me happy about the fact that I am not a teenager anymore. I am blessed to say that my teenage years were quite drama and angst free, and I think that is mostly why I love books like this so much. The Year We Fell Apart might not be for everyone, but it definitely was a novel perfect for me!
Once in awhile I crave a sweet contemporary romance to break up the heavy hardened issues I usually escape too. The Year We Fell Apart, was exactly what I needed. This is a story about first love, lost love and all the mistakes and regrets that come with it. I really enjoyed this book more then I thought I would, it's not exactly a new concept, but I thought it was realistically portrayed and honest and completely adorable in it's own light.
I'm not sure I can say this book is overly romantic but I would still call this a love story. Harper and Declan have been best friends since they were young but that friendship turned into something more, something perfect, but after Declan's mother passes away and he gets shipped off to boarding school, it becomes less perfect and becomes to hard and lonely for Harper to deal with.
Now, I'd like to state that the things Harper has done and is doing in this book was not right in any way, but here's the thing, as we learn the events that happened I started to really sympathy with Harper's situation, understood it and even find it justified. Yes, Harper actions were very selfish and she was very frustrating to read at times, but I also get making mistakes after mistakes till they turn into one big ball of ugly regrettable wrongs and you don't know how to go back and fix it. My point is, that Harper may be very flawed and so is Declan for that matter, but I still thought they were good people and it's what they learned from it, the choices they make and owning up to them that make them most likely to survive. If your gonna go down in flames, love really is the best reason to do it.
Other then relationship aspects of the story, there is a sensational theme of friendships and family as well. I don't know why but I love the idea of having guys for best friends. Cory is hilarious and amazing and a great friend. And I loved what Mack and Gwen brought into the story. Sadie has to go though, she was such a bad influence and even though Harper made her own decisions, it felt like Sadie was really the one causing trouble. I also really loved Harper's parents and brother and thought her mother was brave and inspiring.
All in all, I really loved this book. I loved the writing style, I loved the characters and the awkward situations and I love the friendship between Harper, Declan and Cory. Underneath all the angst and drama is a really sweet story that went up against exhaustible odds of a second chance romance and I simple felt compelled from start to finish. I know that this is obviously a stand alone novel, but I can't help wanting more. What becomes of Harper and Declan now? Can they make their still fragile and long distance relationship work and what struggles do they still face? How is Harper's mother? And will Declan and his dad ever resolve their indifferences? Yup, I'm gonna need a second book please! A great debut and a terrific read!
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