Book Review: Kiss of Broken Glass
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Page Count: 224
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Verse Novel
I am always amazed when a verse novel can pack such an emotional wallop. Madeleine Kuderick uses less words and space to convey heavy situations and deep rooted emotions. From the first poem, I was gripped tightly in Kenna's grasp and I wanted her to find the help and peace she deserves.
Kenna is a fifteen year old girl who doesn't seem to know where she fits. Her older sister, Avery, is picture perfect. She is beautiful, smart, and the constant reminder of her mother's perfect first husband who died young. Kenna's mother remarried and then had Kenna and her younger brother, Sean. Kenna believes that her mother loves her father less than her first husband and that she will never be as good as Avery in her mother's eyes. The story is told from Kenna's perspective and she spends the majority of the novel away from her family so it is difficult to discern if Kenna's feelings are grounded in reality or in her own insecurities. Regardless of the source of Kenna's feelings, her family life causes her to feel inadequate. She doesn't have a strong support system.
In addition, Kenna's best friend, Rennie, is a toxic influence in her life. Rennie has convinced everyone in their group of friends that cutting is the way to be cool and to feel alive. Kenna is drawn into the Sisterhood of Broken Glass. The girls showcase their scars proudly like macabre paintings on their skin; they become walking gruesome art museums. Kenna spirals down into a world of razorblades, broken friendships, and self loathing. She can't seem to climb her way out of the hole she made for herself and finds herself in the school bathroom slicing a line into her flesh. A fellow classmate finds her and reports her behavior.
Kenna lands in a holding facility for 72 hours. She has been "Baker Acted". In the state of Florida, the Baker Act provides immediate emergency intervention for mental health evaluations. Kenna is livid that she must be evaluated because in the beginning she doesn't view her behaviors as a problem or addiction. I've always heard that the first step for addicts is admitting that they have a problem; Kenna certainly fits that protocol. Her time in the facility allows her to view herself and her cutting differently by the time the novel ends.
I appreciated that Kuderick didn't sugar coat the issue nor did she provide an unrealistic ending. Addiction is a constant struggle - not something that is solved in a short time span.
For me, this was a difficult novel to read because it's a behavior that doesn't make sense to me. I've never looked at a sharp object and considered running it across my skin. It was hard for me to put myself in Kenna's shoes to view the addiction from her perspective. I did find the time I spent with Kenna to be valuable in spite of not fully understanding her. Novels like this one are immensely powerful and open my eyes to the problems of others.
One Last Gripe: I wanted to know more about Jag. Verse novels often pass too quickly to give you a deep insight into minor characters.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The strength and courage of Skylar
First Sentence: So here's the thing about being Baker Acted.
Favorite Character: It's hard to have a favorite when everyone is going through such difficult issues, but I will go with Kenna.
Least Favorite Character: Avery
Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.
In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.
When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.