Beautiful Broken GirlsIn a town like Bismuth, tragedy seems to be a constant. But when Mira and Francesca, 2 sisters of a prominent family, drown in the quarry, no one understands how this could happen.
Ben's been having a tough time accepting that Mira, his neighbor and the girl he loved is gone. But then he gets a letter, mailed by Mira before her death, and suddenly he has a purpose-- to find out why Mira and Francesca did what they did.
Mira left notes in 7 places that her and Ben had encounters. They are places Ben would not forget-- but as he tracks down the notes, the story that starts to take shape is complicated, bizarre, and disturbing.
I'm beyond sad to say that I didn't love this book. I REALLY REALLY wanted to, but I just couldn't make that happen. I read After the Woods last year and thought it was phenomenal. Such a strong debut full of interesting characters, a twisty twist, and a smartness that blew me away.
Beautiful Broken Girls is not cut from the same cloth. This book is about an obsession that a town has with these girls-- the reason?? It's anyone's guess. The next door neighbor, Ben, has a particular fascination with the older sister, Mira. And when they take their lives by jumping off the quarry cliff and drowning, it's all a big mystery as to why.
Mira wants Ben to know because she's mailed him a letter sending him on a scavenger hunt for 7 other vague notes. Eager to find these notes (and relive the moments he and Mira shared in the hiding spots), Ben goes on the hunt.
Are you with me so far?? I was mildly on board with the story up to this point too. I mean, I thought it was creepy that she would send him on a scavenger hunt to places where he "touched" her. I get it that you love the girl, but are you really getting a boner over touching a girls hand or cheek??
But THEN-- the book takes this crazy U-Turn into Religious town. It's all Catholic rituals and Saints and Martyrs. It was hard for me to take it seriously, but when the characters in the book were taking it so seriously-- that's when I got confused.
There were times while reading the book that I did fall into the mystery of wanting to know WHAT THE HECK WAS GOING ON. And I did like that it veered into some theories that were promising, but ultimately wrong. I definitely thought at least 2 other things were going to be the suicide reason, and I was totally wrong-- and I love when I'm wrong.
The second biggest problem was Ben. He wasn't a strong enough character to carry the book. And we didn't get to delve into his issues enough. I still don't know what exactly happened to him as a kid-- and clearly he needed help, but never got it. I felt like the mental health issue wasn't handled as well as it could've been. There's nothing wrong with therapy and/or medication when you've been through something like *I think* he has.
His only characteristic is-- unhealthy Mira obsession. I mean, who imagines the insides of someone's organs as a turn-on?? ("He imagined glistening blood cells, villi waving like sea anemone, velvety mucosa. Turn Mira inside out, smear his hand inside." If that's not grounds for a restraining order, I don't know what is). I wish he (and the other dudes in his friend group) had more going on than 2 manic-pixie-dream-girls.
Did I like this book?? Meh. I wanted to and at times I did, but there was just a little too much weirdness, unexplained happenings, and lack of leading characters for me to say it was a recommendable book.
AND THAT ENDING. Just no.
OVERALL: I wanted to love this because of After the Woods, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I didn't like the religious/mystical place that the book went, and I didn't feel the main character was developed enough to lead the book. It's interesting in that it tries to do something different, but ultimately it wasn't for me.
Date Published: 2//21/2017
How I got this book: Thanks to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for allowing me to read and honestly review this book
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan)
Add it to your To-Read List!!
Character: Francesca Cillo
Book: Blessed by Tonya Hurley
- This seems like the PERFECT book for her. Saints and Martyrs?? Lost girls searching for something? Totally Francesca.