ARC Review – The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

22449806Title:  The Year We Fell Apart

Author: Emily Martin

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: 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.

Huge thank you to the author for letting me borrow an advanced copy of this!

River’s Review:

Ugh this book got me right in the feels! Emily Martin writes a very witty, funny, sad, and heartwarming contemporary novel that really took me back to a place in my life that I will probably never get over. And that was a little difficult for me to face, but sometimes I need books that are like therapy, and this was one of them.

This is the story about Harper and how she deals with healing herself and her relationships while coming to terms with her mother’s fight against breast cancer. In 2000 my Grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and I spent two years falling apart over it. Much like Harper I destroyed relationships and dealt with things by drinking and hooking up with guys that I shouldn’t have been. I destroyed my relationship with my best friend and really didn’t take care of myself. There were times when the things Harper did were the things that I’d done and I was just shaking my head and saying HARPER NOOOOOO.

I loved the characters in this book! Everyone was so real and so relate-able. Declan was swoonworthy and Cory was such a good friend. I really enjoyed how Harper got to know Gwen and Mackenzie. And I really wanted Sadie to get her just deserts. But really it was Harper who I really connected with. I understood a lot of her feelings and a lot of her pain and even thought I didn’t always agree with what she was doing, I could understand it.

This is the type of book I wish that I’d had when I was going through my Grandmother’s cancer.

Another thing I really loved was the subtle mid-western-isms (since the author is also from Michigan!) which just made it even more personable for me.

If you’re a contemporary fan like I am you’ll so want to check this out come January! It’s perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jessi Kirby, and Sara Ockler.

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for this ARC!

My co-blogger told me that I was going to have a bit of a hard time with this book due to the content. She was right. This is a novel that focuses on a young woman who has learned her mother has cancer and has a slew of other problems as well. Harper seems herself as a screw-up, a mistake, and she’s someone who wants to make amends with those she’s hurt.

The part of this novel that worked for me was in regards to Harper’s mother. I could relate to a lot of her feelings, as my own mother has had an eleven year on and off battle with cancer. There’s a lot of self-sacrifice and constantly feeling like you’re being selfish when you don’t want to do something. I understood Harper’s feelings perfectly, because living or taking care of someone with cancer can take a lot out of you both emotionally and physically. But I also could sympathize and understand a lot of Harper’s mother’s feelings — the chemo brain, the fog, wanting to be as strong as possible for yourself and others, it’s a lot of hard work as well. You feel like a burden on your loved ones when all you really want to do is feel like yourself. I understood both points of view since it’s something I live with every day.

But this book is full of emotions, which is what I truly loved about it. Martin writes in a way that is both witty as it is gut-punching. Harper is a character who makes so many mistakes and yet she is someone who I found myself sympathizing with throughout. She makes mistakes, she doesn’t feel as though she has self-worth, and yet she’s spiraling through so many emotions that she feels out of control. She doesn’t know how she can take care of anyone, let alone herself. I can identify with that wholeheartedly. Unlike Harper, I found myself clinging to others when things went bad, rather than pushing people away. Still, I understood a lot of her feelings and part of me just wanted to say how much I understood what she was going through.

The friendship element in this novel is fantastically well developed, and Martin gives us so much insight into Declan and Harper’s relationship. We understand how and why it fell apart, and yet the way in which they begin to converge in the story is just mind-blowing. Every character in this novel and their relationships felt so real. Also I hated Kyle. I hated him so much throughout the story and every time he was on the page I just kept cringing with disgust. He just made me so angry! But even he felt realistically portrayed.

If you love contemporary literature, especially ones that focus on tougher issues, this is a great choice. It not only shows grief, but portrays it in such a realistic way. Watching Harper fall apart and then collect herself was such a fantastic and important reading experience for me. She reminded me of myself when I was first going through dealing with my mom and her cancer. This is such a powerful and poignant read.

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