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Parents' Guide to

Broken Things

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Page-turning murder mystery focuses on friendship, fandom.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (3 ):

Oliver's mystery is a compelling mix of Pretty Little Liars, the Slender Man stabbing, and Bridge to Terabithia -- how favorite stories can turn into a refuge and shield. While some young-adult authors struggle to keep multi-POV perspectives distinct enough, Oliver gives both protagonists a clear and different voice. She also makes the Lovelorn and Return to Lovelorn texts as integral and interesting as Rainbow Rowell made the Simon Snow fanfic in Fangirl. Some readers may, in their haste, be tempted to skip the chapter intros from the story-within-a-story, but they shouldn't, as there's so much that's essential and revelatory in those little excerpts. Mia and Brynn are both flawed, as is the late Summer, whose hold on the girls is understandably unhealthy five years after they were found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Oliver makes the supporting characters like Owen, Wade (Brynn's crime-obsessed cousin), and Abby come alive -- particularly Abby, who's a fat-positive beauty vlogger with a large social media following. Owen, once Summer's boyfriend and Mia's best male friend before that, is also interesting but has fewer layers outside of how he made Mia feel as a young adolescent. There are two sweet romances (one straight, one queer) that blossom amid the intense investigation into who really killed Summer, but one is tentative, while the other feels like the beginning of forever. Romance, however, isn't nearly as important as friendship and the many ways these three girls, who were closer than sisters, changed one another's lives, and not always for the better.

Book Details

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