Author: Jenny Valentine
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books, 228 Pages (May 21st 2012)
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Synopsis: An intriguing, compelling and moving novel from the award-winning author of Finding Violet Park.
When the good-looking boy with the American accent presses the dropped negative into Rowan's hand, she's sure it's all a big mistake. But next moment he's gone, lost in the crowd of bustling shoppers. And she can't afford to lose her place in the checkout queue – after all, if she doesn't take the groceries home, nobody else will.
Rowan has more responsibilities than most girls her age. These days, she pretty much looks after her little sister single-handedly – which doesn't leave much time for friends or fun. So when she finds out that Bee from school saw the whole thing, it piques her curiosity. Who was the boy? Why was he so insistent that the negative belonged to Rowan
Review: 3.5 Stars - When I started reading Broken Soup, I didn’t really know what to expect. I have previously read two of Valentine’s other novels- one I really enjoyed and one I wasn’t so sure about.
Broken Soup tells the story of Rowan. He brother Jack tragically drowned in an accident 2 years ago. After he died her parents separated and her Mum became depressed, her Dad does visit but he isn’t permanently present. This leaves Rowan caring for her 6 year old sister Stroma, doing the housework and shopping.
One day when she’s out shopping a boy gives her a photograph negative and tells her she dropped it. Rowan knows she didn’t but the boy is insistent that she did and she accepts it.
Not long after this she befriends Bee, who helps her develop the photograph. What follows is a story of determination, secrets and sadness. It’s brilliant that something so small and insignificant can be the thing that brings so many people together.
Rowan is a likeable character but in trying to protect her Mum by not telling her Dad how severe her Mum’s depression is, she increases the burden on herself. If Rowan had told him things might have been easier, but I do understand why she does it.
Stroma is a little ray of sunshine in the midst of a dark cloud of grief. She is too wise for her age, and is a delightful character to read.
Harper is a nice distraction but I found Rowan’s trust in him came about a bit quickly and then she left Stroma in his care- something I wouldn’t have expected her to do, considering how protective she is of her.
Grief is not an easy thing to read about; Broken Soup does have some emotional moments for Rowan. It is well written and an enjoyable read despite its sensitive subject.
The only reason Broken Soup didn’t get 4 stars was because there are a few topics which with the age group this book is aged at may be seen as inappropriate for that age group. They may only be brief mentions but with the book aimed at 11-16; something like drug use is deemed acceptable and isn’t looked down on by 3 of the characters. I understand that it some walks of life it is the norm, but not when I was younger. The book is suitable in my opinion for older teens, as it also contains some swearing.
Recommended for fans of Keren David and Louisa Reid.