Unbreak My Heart

Unbreak My Heart

4.5 18
by Melissa Walker

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The year that broke her heart. The summer that healed it. A dual love story.See more details below


The year that broke her heart. The summer that healed it. A dual love story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Walker (Small Town Sinners) brings honest, heartfelt storytelling to the tale of 16-year-old Clementine, who’s embarking on a summer boat trip with her parents while leaving a ravaged social life behind. As her family sails along the Midwestern river portion of the Great Loop, Clem agonizes over the events that led to her fall from grace. The story emerges slowly, and what could have been a familiar retelling of a girl falling for her best friend’s boyfriend becomes something new and complex, as Clem reveals more of what took place. Early on in the trip, Clem meets James, a boy who’s also traveling the Great Loop and whose cheerful demeanor covers his own painful background. Their love story is pleasingly romantic, though it’s Clem’s relationship with her parents and younger sister, Olive, that are the core of the story, as they work to support Clem through this difficult time in her life. Clem’s breakthrough is satisfying and true, as is the ending that brings Clem home, but leaves open what will happen next. Ages 12–up. Agent: Douglas Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)
VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Clementine Williams's junior year has ended disastrously. The chemistry between Clem and her best friend Amanda's boyfriend, Ethan, is irresistible, mutual, dangerous, and ultimately destructive. As a result, she has been rejected by Amanda and defriended, electronically and otherwise, by those closest to her. Her forced exile aboard the family sailboat for an extended summer journey has become more dreary escape than sunny excursion. As it is, no one is around to send her off. Nor does it seem anyone, especially not Amanda, is much interested in her return. Then good-looking, talented, and funny James shows up. He and his father are tracing the same route as Clem's boat, providing ample opportunity for frequent overlap in ports along the way. Despite her depression, Clem cannot help but be taken in by James's easy and friendly nature. Told in alternating chapters of present and recent past, the parallel stories line up to a twin culmination: Amanda's discovery of Clem's betrayal as well as Clem's confession of her dishonest behavior to James. Walker's ability to spin believable dialog and likeable characters—James, Amanda, and Clem's younger sister, Olive, come to mind—does not rescue the story from a plodding plot and a rather unlikeable protagonist. No one enjoys hanging out with someone bent on moping about, and the same holds true in the fictional world. Clem's self-pity is believable and well drawn but lasts far too long to be fun. Drawing out more of James's story, including the reasons why Clem's confession hits him hard, would have strengthened the tale. Walker also chooses an intriguing setting, American river sailing, which, had it been tapped, could have provided more color to otherwise lackluster context. Still, Walker's shortfalls are more disappointment than disaster. Teen girls looking for something light and quick will enjoy Unbreak My Heart. They are just unlikely to remember it. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan
Children's Literature - Tina Chan
Sixteen-year-old Clementine "Clem" Williams spends the summer with her parents and younger sister on a boat trip along the Illinois River. While the rest of her family is excited about the trip, Clem is not. During the previous school year, she got into an argument with her best friend, Amanda, who accused Clem of having sex with Amanda's boyfriend, Ethan. While Clem is attracted to Ethan, and Clem believes he is attracted to her based on their conversations and his body language, she did not have sex with him. This is contrary to what Amanda believes and what everybody at school believes based on the false rumor that Amanda started. Nobody believes Clem, and Amanda and their friends are on Ethan's side. During the boat trip, Clem meets a boy named James, who is on a boat trip with his father. Clem and James are attracted to each other, but Clem still has Amanda on her mind. As the boat trip comes to an end, she and James keep in touch. They live forty miles from each other. Readers are left to wonder what will happen between Clem and James, and Clem and Amanda. This book is written in alternating chapters Clem's relationship with Amanda and Clem's family boat trip. An exciting read for teenage girls. Reviewer: Tina Chan
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—"A summer in exile" is how Clementine Williams envisions her 16th summer when she and her family leave their home in Illinois to embark upon a three-month trip on their 42-foot sailboat. While sailing the Great Loop, Clem ruminates over betraying her best friend, Amanda, by falling for Amanda's boyfriend. Clem couldn't help herself; she and Ethan shared a sense of humor, spent hours talking, and before she could stop it they were hanging out one-on-one and holding hands. Now her best friend since kindergarten hates her. Ethan, however, was forgiven and got to keep Amanda in the bargain. Clem seems determined to spend her vacation crying, moping, and dwelling on being a terrible friend and person. "A little self-flagellation is healthy, right?" But "It's exhausting being sad," and eventually she opens up to James, who is also sailing the Great Loop with his father. Both coping with feelings of loss, they forge a romantic friendship. Clem's first-person narration smoothly switches from the past to the present, slowly revealing the full backstory of her heartache. Halfway through the story, the plot gets a much-needed puff of life as the teen's relationship with James takes on some energy. Clem's conflict with Ethan and Amanda does not get resolved, making the ending feel a bit abrupt. This summer read adequately, if a bit shallowly, treads the waters of teen emotions and relationships, and romance fans will enjoy the story.—Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT
Kirkus Reviews
Clementine Williams, 16, heartbroken and guilt-ridden, could use some personal space to figure things out, but confined with her family on a 42-foot sailboat for a summer-long trip down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers on the Great Loop route, privacy is in short supply. Estranged from her lifelong best friend Amanda and confused by her forbidden, now-severed relationship with Ethan, Clem withdraws from family activities, curling up in her tiny cabin with iPod and journal. Her worried, loving parents and little sister, Olive, fail to draw Clem out of her self-imposed isolation, though the peaceful, scenic river life soothes her. But it's James, 17, the tall, red-headed artist on a parallel trip with his dad, who gives her the new perspective she needs to begin healing. Interspersed with this account, the events leading to Clem's present misery unfold in flashbacks. Fully realized and authentic, she behaves and responds like a genuine teen. (Ethan is the exception among a cast of believable characters: why, after pursuing Clem steadily, did he abruptly withdraw?) Walker's compassion and emotional insight, lauded in her well-received Small Town Sinners (2011), are strengths, as is the setting. From vessels named with groan-inducing puns like Sea Ya to the challenges of shipboard sanitation, she brings the insulated boating world to life with knowledgeable affection. A quietly absorbing journey. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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