Gilly Reads

Review: Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

on young adult books

Firstly, as part of the blog tour for Fierce Fragile Hearts I’m hosting a giveaway over on Instagram. Pan Macmillan are giving away a pack of Fierce Fragile Hearts and Beautiful Broken Things, so please check it out.

Fierce Fragile Hearts is a companion novel/sequel to Sara Barnard’s incredible novel Beautiful Broken Things. The story is set two years after the events of Beautiful Broken Things, and while I think you possibly could read it as a standalone, I definitely recommend picking up the first book before embarking on Fierce Fragile Hearts for a richer reading experience.

Beautiful Broken Things is a story that anyone who likes contemporary YA will enjoy, but also has that particular atmosphere that makes me wish I’d first read it as a teenager to more fully appreciate it. It is written from the perspective of sixteen year old Caddy, who recounts what happens when her best friend Rosie introduces the new girl at her school, Suzanne, into their friendship. Suzanne is troubled and full of dark secrets; Rosie and Caddy have very different lives, but they have known each other since childhood and their friendship has deep roots. Allowing Suzanne into their friendship has dramatic consequences.

Beautiful Broken Things and Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

Two years later, Suzanne returns and reconnects with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. As in Beautiful Broken Things, finishing high school introduces challenges into their friendship. Barnard does an incredible job exploring the intensity and complexities of teenage friendships, as well as everything that accompanies teenagers entering the world as becoming adults. Both books are beautifully written and navigate the complexity of trauma and recovery as well as the usual teenage struggles of identity and belonging.

In Fierce Fragile Hearts as Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne embark on adulthood, we see them developing new relationships and dealing with being not-quite adults. The story is told from Suzanne’s perspective and demonstrates how far she has come in dealing with her trauma, but also how complicated and difficult life still is for her. There is no easy solution, nor will a friendship (or romance) fix her. She just has to keep working at it, and sometimes make difficult and seemingly selfish decisions. One of the things I love about Barnard’s writing, especially in Fierce Fragile Hearts is the depth and complexity of relationships. Not only the friendships between the three girls, but also their interactions with the other people in their lives. The bond Suzanne develops with Dilys helps both of them through painful experiences and was lovely to read; Suzanne’s friendship with Kel and relationship with Matt were well developed and satisfying. The romance aspect of the story was limited and realistic: ultimately I thought very beautiful. I found the ending hugely satisfying.

Overall, Fierce Fragile Hearts is a compelling companion to Beautiful Broken Hearts, and well worth picking up.

Make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour on the Pan Macmillan website.

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