THE YEAR WE FELL APARTAuthor: Emily Martin
Source: ARC via the Publisher
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Rating: 5/5 stars
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'm a pretty jaded person. I've had a lot of bad shit happen to me and it has given me a cynical outlook on life, especially about giving people second chances because they usually just fuck you over again. Sorry, that's life. But. And this is a huge but. THE YEAR WE FELL APART might have changed my mind. It handles the second chances, especially the ones we give ourselves, so wonderfully and perfectly, that I almost want to give second chances a second chance.
I loved Harper. I loved how selfish she was and that she was doing anything she could to escape. I liked that she acknowledged that she was even imperfect and selfish because that made me like her even more. I think we have too high of standards for female protagonists but Harper screws up multiple times in this book and it just made her feel all the more real. And I loved her for it. I loved that she struggled to be the person she was Before Declan Left and After Declan Left and had to settle for somewhere in between. Because a lot of us are the in between people -- not quite the person we were Before and not quite the person we were immediately After. I also really liked that she didn't try to stop the rumours or try to really set them straight except to the people who mattered. I liked that she kind of wore them as badges of "oh man I effed up and continued to eff up" because that's the only way we learn. And ugh, I just really liked that she was willing to give herself a second chance, because we don't do that in real life too often.
I liked Declan because he wasn't perfect either. He made mistakes and had a bit of a hard time owning up to them but I just really enjoyed him and everything about him. I liked that he tried to give Harper the second chance he thought she deserved and that he was willing to (almost) look past the things she had done. It made me really like them as a couple.
I would have liked just a tad bit more about her mother and the illness but I think because Harper avoids it so much that it made it okay to sort of skim it in the book. I think the brief glimpses we get in the book were enough to have the reader realize that it is tough to live with someone who has this sort of problem. Because it's excruciating for them, but it is difficult for those on the outside too. Harper couldn't handle it and escaped the only way she knew how.
I highly recommend this one. If it melted my cold, cold heart, I would imagine it will do the same to those of you that have a real live beating one there too.