YA of the Week: ‘Unbreak My Heart’ Makes Me Glad I’m 38

I absolutely love children’s literature, especially young adult novels. I would give up Doritos forever for them. I read one or two a week (and I write one every couple of years when Scholastic will hire me.) That’s totally and completely immature of me, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t care.

I’m not embarrassed because my mom friends and I swap YA books like parenting advice. We even chose some kid lit for our book club–you must pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone right now. So who is with me? Who else loves The Fault in Our Stars, Matched and, of course, The Hunger Games and Twilight? If you raised your hand, this semi-regular blog feature is for you.

This week I read Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker (full disclosure: she’s my friend, but if I didn’t love her book, I’d keep my big mouth shut). It’s about 16-year-old Clementine who falls for her best friend Amanda’s boyfriend. This guy, Ethan, plays both girls like banjos. Remember those dudes in high school? The kind you’d kiss, and you totally thought they’d call but they never did? Instead they ignored you in English class? Ethan’s like that, but he’s worse. He crosses lines without really crossing them. He makes angsty playlists. He brushes his hands across tingly skin. He causes the ultimate heartbreak for lovetorn Clementine–especially when her best friend finds out and unfriends her on Facebook.

After the scandal hits the fan, and all of Clementine’s friends drop her like she’s last year’s potato, Clementine leaves. She goes on a summer-long sailboating journey with her mom, dad and little sister. The book made me feel exactly the same way I felt when I was 17. A love triangle was involved. I think I’m almost over it.

Walker’s writing is tentative and meaningful. Of course, she introduces another hottie named James who is on a parallel sailboating journey. Their secrets, discoveries and romance keep the pages turning. Most touching, I thought, were Clementine’s revelations about what’s important and what’s not–and her sweet relationship with each member of her family. I loved her little sister Olive the best.

I relived all my best and worst teenage emotions through Clementine’s insightful eyes. I love to journey back into that land. But man, I am really glad that I’m now 38.

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