The Year We Fell Apart
Release date: January 26th 2016
Harper is used to making mistakes. A mistake got her kicked off the swim team, she lost her parents’ trust, got a reputation as the school’s easiest girl, but the worst was the mistake that ruined her friendship with her best friend Declan. After almost a year of no contact, Declan is back home for the summer and Harper finds that he’s the one person she wants to talk to about her mom’s illness and her life. They share the same group of friends so avoiding each other the whole summer is impossible and, maybe, with some talking and some forgiveness, they can find their way back to the relationship they used to share.
This was one of the books I was really excited for and I was happy it was coming out in January so I wouldn’t have to wait too long into the new year to read it. I ended up starting and finishing this book on New Year’s day and it seemed appropriate to read a book so filled with attempts to move on from the past and promise of new starts.
Harper was one of those characters I found easy to connect with even though I’d never been in her position. She made mistakes and made some bad judgement calls that a lot of people her age could easily make and she had to deal with the consequences. Her feelings of guilt and issues with abandonment likely helped make the consequences worse for herself since she was internalizing everything and let everyone believe the one version of the story that was being told. Her ways of dealing with things meant making the same mistakes over and over and not really learning anything until she actually faced the deeper issues, which could have been frustrating to read but instead just felt realistic and made me sympathize with her.
My favourite thing about this book ended up being the friendships and relationships between the characters. Harper, Declan, and Cory had been a threesome for so long until Declan was sent to boarding school and Harper made the first of her mistakes. Even with their friendship strained it was obvious to tell there was so much history between them and I was rooting for them. There was also new developing friendships between Harper and two girls from a photography summer class her parents made her take. Gwen and McKenzie gave Harper the chance to have a more healthy friendship with other girls than her current friendship with Sadie. It was really nice to see Gwen and McKenzie so supportive of Harper instead of letting rumours scare them away.
The plot was a bit repetitive but in a way that fit the story. Harper was struggling to break away from her self-destructive pattern but sometimes that meant taking one step forward and two back so it felt like we were reading the same situation over again. Instead of feeling repetitive, it felt like it fit Harper’s character and just added to the reasons why she was someone I wanted to see pull herself out and overcome all her mistakes. There was something touching and very familiar while reading about this group of friends trying to put their mistakes in their past and move on together. Reading it was a reminder of how easy it can be to have an immediate reaction to something that can have unintended consequences and how it can help to talk to your friends.
I did find myself wishing the plot with Harper’s mother had been more fleshed out. The synopsis had made it sound like it would be a huge part of the plot but it was more like the C plot. More focus on that might have meant more scenes of Harper with her parents and more family time, which I found I was craving. Other than that, I really enjoyed this read.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.