by Emily Martin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Synopsis:In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.
The Year We Fell Apart is a story about a teenage girl, Harper Sloan, who had a horrible junior year of high school that is bleeding over to her summer. She is changed from the girl she was before into someone who is not making the best choices possible. She did something stupid that resulted in her leaving her swim team, disappointing her parents, alienating the boy she loves, and becoming fodder for the rumor mill. To top it all off, her mother has cancer. Her friend Cory and Sadie stood by her through it all, while Declan, her best friend and boy she loves, was shipped off to boarding school.
The entire book takes place during the summer where Harper tries to reconcile her life to deal with her mother’s illness, her friend Sadie’s need to party and always dragging her along, taking a summer school class, making new friends, making more bad choices, and dealing with her feelings for Declan.
What I really liked about this story was that the author made the characters relatable. We all have people in our group of friends that we can associate with the people that Harper has in her life. Everyone had some sort of High School experience, be it good or bad, and friends that either stood by us, or walked away.
We get to see through Harper’s eyes why she did what she did, and how the bad choices she is making affect not only her, but her friends and family. To me part of Harper’s dealing with Sadie and the continual parities is one way for Harper to act out; the only problem is it does not help the reputation that Harper suddenly has as being easy. It also does not help that she continues to pull Cory into her problems by always asking him to come and get her when she gets stuck someplace with Sadie.
It is easy to see that her core friends and Sadie do not see eye to eye, especially Sadie and Declan, and that there is a history behind it that has to do with what happened during the school year between Harper and Declan. To me Sadie is an outlet for Harper to let loose and not be herself for a while, even if doing that has bad consequences that affect other aspects of her life, and relationships, including those with her family.
I also liked the way that we got to see how Harper was choosing to deal with her mother’s illness, and interact with her family, and friends, especially since Cory and Harper’s mothers are so close.
Ms. Martin did a good job of bringing in new friends, Mackenzie and Gwen, who actually support Harper, regardless of her past, and help bring about her hanging around with Declan again. I really enjoyed seeing Harper becoming friends with Mackenzie and Gwen, even if she does feel that Mackenzie may want to be with Declan, who Harper is trying to ignore her feelings for.
Emily Martin lives and writes in the Greater Boston area, though she will always call Michigan home. She has a penchant for impromptu dance parties, vintage clothing, and traveling to new places. When not writing, she can be found hiking New England’s peaks, searching for the perfect cup of hot chocolate, or baking something pumpkin-flavored.
Emily’s debut young adult novel, THE YEAR WE FELL APART, comes out January 26, 2016 from Simon Pulse.
Her work is represented by Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary.