The Year We Fell Apart – Emily Martin
YA – Contemporary
Published January 26th 2016 by Simon Pulse
This book man, so many mixed feelings. On one hand, I was so annoyed with some characters and plots that it was just argh. On the other hand I stayed up until 2am because I needed to finish it and see how everything played out.
In the past year, Harper has been kicked off of the swim team for making out with another teammate’s boyfriend in the pool afterhours. Since then she has earned a reputation as the easiest hook-up at school who is just drinking her through it until graduation, earning the black sheep title in her family. All of this started when the fall before she broke up with boyfriend and best friend when he was away at boarding school. Now that Declan is back for the summer, Harper realizes he’s not the boy she left behind and he’s realizing the same about her. While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper their mutual friends keep bringing them together. In the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis, Harper must decide if the path she’s going down is the right one for her and if there is enough history to salvage her friendship with Declan.
I think I would love everything about this book if we could make all of the secondary friend’s main characters and make Harper a secondary character. Corey and Sadie and all of Harper’s friends were great and I wanted to see more of them. Anytime they were in a scene I smiled, and then they disappeared for a million chapters. I know a lot of people didn’t like Sadie but I did. She was a teenage girl but at least she had the sense to know what she wanted and she wasn’t going to apologize for it. I wish Corey was given more to do than be Harper’s drunk phone call for a ride and occasional hang out partner when she had nothing else to do.
A lot of the things that made this book a bummer for me were all tied up in in the main character, Harper. I just didn’t understand her motives at all. She is flawed and selfish and unlikeable but all of that would have been okay if I understood why. It’s explained, yes, but I never buy it and I think that’s my biggest problem with the story because it’s so center. All of the other stuff is great but with me not believing the central motive that led to all of the conflicts it all just felt like a wash. Her reasoning for distancing herself from Declan and everybody else was too out there, even for me. It made the angst feel so forced.
More on my Harper rant, her drinking. Teenagers drink, to excess, none of this should be news to anyone but her drinking felt like what you’re grandparents picture teen drinking to be like. All of the other kids who do it for fun are awful people but your angel only does it because something’s obviously wrong with her. All it takes to fix her is good clean fun and she never feels the urge again. This probably isn’t how Martin intended it at all and I like her reasoning for making Harper self-destruct but it never felt resolved to me. Did she continue drinking casually? Did she take a rehab class or something? Or is everything just hunky-dory because she got her boyfriend back that she tossed away in the first place? The first ¾ of the novel does nothing to address that she genuinely has a drinking problem (probably) and I think that would have been something that would have been really interesting to explore but never was.
The central conflict and Harper’s reactions always felt like they were on two completely different spheres for me. I will say Martin’s writing had me hooked and I will definitely be looking out for more of her books in the future. All in all it was a good read but not he great read I was expecting.