Book Review: What's Broken Between Us
By: Alexis Bass
Published By: HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Page Count: 241
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
What's Broken Between Us is a story told by Amanda Tart, the younger sister of Jonathan Tart who killed his best friend and seriously injured his girlfriend in a drunk driving accident on the night of graduation. Amanda is now a senior in high school, but still living in Jonathan's shadow. She is dating Graham, a senior on the soccer team who is the perfect boyfriend. He shields her from the stares and whispers of the other students at school and tries to be patient and understanding of what she is going through. The problem is, Amanda never really lets him in on exactly what that is.
Sutton Crane was Jonathan's girlfriend before the accident, but they haven't had any contact in over a year. Sutton's younger brother, Henry, was interested in Amanda before the accident and they finally realized their feelings for each other the night of the accident. They have both been feeling guilty about this for a year, wondering if they had only been less selfish and more attentive to their siblings that night, then maybe this accident might never have occurred. As a result, they haven't spoken to one another in over a year either.
Unfortunately, when Jonathan is released from jail, he doesn't follow the rules set up for him by his probation officer. His parents don't enforce any kind of rules for him either so he is left up to his own devices. Amanda shows great devotion to her brother, but she is struggling to find the remorse she knows must be inside him. When I initially started What's Broken Between Us, I was sure this was going to be a sad book that would require an abundance of kleenex. However, that was not the case. While there were definitely a few sad parts, this book was about the aftermath of the accident and how it has affected the families involved.
I had a really hard time connecting with this book. While I thought the premise was a great idea, the characters all made so many bad decisions that it was hard to find many redeeming qualities in them. The Tart parents - Mumsy and Standard Dad - were completely worthless. In the end, we find out why they never gave their children any rules, and thus no consequences since there were no rules to break. But it did so much damage to their children that I think it will take many years to bridge the gaps left in their lives. Amanda showed the most growth of all the characters in the book. While Standard Dad did seem to man up in the end, it took Amanda's influence for him to make that progress.
The ending also left me feeling a bit unfinished...like I wasn't really sure if that was the end of the book. I was ok with where Jonathan ended up and I think it's the best thing for him. As far as Amanda and Henry, I guess only Alexis Bass knows where that one is going!
I think my favorite character of the book was Amanda's best friend Dawn. Due to the distance between them, both geographically and age-wise, I understand why they seemed to struggle in their relationship. But I loved that they were able to fix their relationship and that Dawn seemed to help mend some "additional" fences in the end.
If you have a loved one who has been the victim of drunk driving or been convicted of drunk driving, you might connect with this book in a way that I did not. I don't want to turn anyone off this book, but for some reason this one just didn't click with me.
Alexis Bass’s heartbreakingly beautiful second novel is a tale of love, loss, and learning to forgive, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and of Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything.
A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart's brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he's coming home from prison.
Amanda's been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother's recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he's a monster. Still, she loves him. It's her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again--whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.
A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she'll let his choice destroy hers.