Review: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to MendTitle: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge #1)
Author: Katie Finn
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Gifted, Netgalley
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long? 

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is? 

Katie Finn hits all the right notes in this perfect beginning to a new summer series: A Broken Hearts & Revenge novel

my thoughts

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend is essentially a book about trying to make up for past mistakes, which is something I’m always up for. It is also set in a beach town, and it has the most adorable romance. I had a lot of fun reading this book, because it is just a lot of fun. Still, there was also a (big) part that annoyed me and made my skin crawl – but more about that later. Of course, I had high expectations because as you may or may not know, Katie Finn is also Morgan Matson (who I prefer to refer to as MORGAN MATSON), master of writing beautiful books that me cry. I do understand why she used a pen name for this one, though, because Broken Hearts is a very different story. Most importantly, it felt a lot younger than her other books. While still enjoyable, this also caused me to be a bit more distanced from this book, and will probably keep it from being very memorable to me in the future.

Our main character, Gemma, is Queen of Bad Decisions. After she gets dumped by her perfect (include yawning here) boyfriend, she has to go spend the summer with her dad in Long Island, where she hasn’t been since the summer she was eleven, also known as the summer she ruined her best friend’s life. I wasn’t a big fan of Gemma, mostly because her decisions really were that bad. She seems like a pretty smart girl, but the things she does and thinks really made me want to smack her. What I do like, however, is that we’re reading a book from the “mean girl”‘s point of view, except that Gemma is not really a mean girl. She just made some bad (very bad) decisions in her past. Besides Gemma, the other characters – ex-BFF Hallie, crush Josh, current BFF Sophie – are pretty flat, which I think is partly because Gemma very absorbed in her own life. Still, I wish they had been worked out better.

Like I said, I like it when characters try to make up for past mistakes. In this case, however, I’m not sure how I feel about it. Gemma has made a mistake that was so terrible it ruined lives – when she was eleven. I am a) not sure if an eleven-year-old would be able to pull off a thing like this, and b) not sure why Gemma’s parents were not (very) involved in her life, even when she was eleven. This last thing irked me especially because I thought the tone in Broken Hearts was younger than most YA books. A result of me constantly shaking my head at Gemma’s decisions and her parents’ lack of involvement was that this book made me feel old. It feels like it was written for a younger audience, and because of this, I am not sure if I am the right person to judge this book. Because while I don’t think the book’s younger tone is a bad thing at all, it does change my overall opinion of the story in the way it speaks to me, personally.

And frankly, I’m also just not sure if I like the way Gemma’s dealing with her “past mistakes” was handled. I mean, it was pretty damn serious. I was craving some parental involvement instead of a teenage revenge plot that I thought was kind of juvenile and out of place regarding the severity of Gemma’s actions. I think it would have worked better if eleven-year-old Gemma’s actions hadn’t actually View Spoiler ». But maybe that’s just me. There is also the fact that from the start of the book, there are so many things going wrong in Gemma’s life, which made my skin crawl. This is a personal thing and won’t be the case for everyone, but I can only handle so many things going wrong before it makes me uncomfortable. All in all, Broken Hearts was over the top in a Disney Channel movie kind of way, but with an aspect that was too serious and kind of out of place. I wish that instead, this book would have focused on the characters.

I think that the main thing we can take away from this is that I took this book way too seriously, while it was obviously meant to be a light, fun summer read. But I still really did enjoy it (except for the moments that were too embarrassing to think about, because those made me feel itchy!) and while I think the big twist was very obvious, it does provide a nice set-up for the second book. Plus, the setting and romance were good, and I loved Josh and Sophie – Josh, because while he was too perfect, he was adorable, and Sophie because, while she was a bit flat, she was an AMAZING best friend. View Spoiler » All in all, I wish the Thing that happened had been less serious, and Gemma’s parents showed up now and again.Broken Hearts is a very fun, fluffy summer read that unfortunately didn’t completely work for me.

memorable quotes

I sighed. “Okay, fine. My bathing suit is kind of falling apart.”
A very intrigued and happy expression took over Josh’s face. “Really?” I glared at him, and he arranged his features into a more contrite expression. “I mean… that’s horrible.”

Judith is a 21 year old book blogger and reviewer, English student, part time magazine editor, compulsive book buyer, aspiring writer, proud book pusher, founder of Paper Riot and co-founder of the Recaptains. She is kind of addicted to Twitter. More?

3 Responses to “Review: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend”

  1. I didn’t take Broken Hearts seriously. I don’t know if I can believe the situation with Gemma and Josh and the lying that got the whole ball rolling in the first place, but suspended my belief for the sake of the story. What I like about it, is that I don’t know who to side with, you know? Like Gemma is the protagonist but I feel like she wronged Hallie but I also feel like Hallie is in the wrong too. The adult-ish traits in me wants to tell them both to grow up, but at the same time, I know when you’re in the middle of an impossible situation, it’s hard to have that clarity and wisdom.

  2. Estelle says:

    Yes. The THING. Sigh. I agree with all of this, and I did really like Sophie. I truly think this book could have been tweaked in a way to make it less intense and more age appropriate and not all about the OMGWTF factor, ya know?

  3. Alexa S. says:

    Yes, I wasn’t too comfortable with the big thing that went down either! It seemed like way too much drama and seriousness for something that could have been lighter and worked better with the younger audience it seems to be geared towards. That said,I did have fun reading it (also in spite of predicting many things)! I liked Josh, and Sophie, and found Gemma and Hallie utterly amusing. Not sure it’s the most memorable book I’ve ever read… But I do want to read part two, so there’s that!

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