Release Date: May 13, 2014
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
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 »ruined someone’s career in her petty attempt to get her parents back together « Hide 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 »When Gemma tells her about the mistakes she made, Sophie is understanding and supportive and does whatever she can to help her friend. YAY. « Hide 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.
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.”