Review Blog

Mar 13 2019

Fierce fragile hearts by Sara Barnard

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Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781509852888.
(Age: Young Adult 15+) Recommended. Suzanne is an 18 year old who is trying her best to live an independent life. She has a lot to prove to her friends and family who feel she isn't quite ready to look after herself. Suzanne is now older and has finished her therapy, she is ready to move on. She believes going back to live in Brighton where she belongs, will be the best place for her. Suzanne is looking forward to being there with her best friends Caddy, Rosie and Kel. However, 'moving on' is not how she imagined it, her one room apartment is small and dreary, her closest friends leave to start university, she feels abandoned and alone. Lonely and struggling on the basic wage she earns from a coffee shop, Suzanne develops a warm friendship with Dilys, her elderly neighbour and her dog Clarence. Suzanne looks forward to her weekly visits with Dilys, she uses her washing machine to do her laundry and in the meantime they chat over cups of tea. For the rest of the novel Suzanne takes us with her as she struggles with her past abusive family life, her relationships with her brother, aunt and her new romantic interest, musician Matt. We witness her many moments of self-doubt and self-deprecation.
Sara Barnard has written this book as a sequel to Beautiful Broken Things. The characters in this book are as vivid and convincing as ever. These characters could easily be people one knows and has in one's life. Their interactions are real and natural, as friends, they are there for each other and they have their ups and downs, but they show up when things get really tough. I really enjoyed the way Sara Barnard gave us many examples of true friendships and how strong relationships can withstand some serious testing.
Most of all I enjoyed reading when Suzanne and Dilys were together, their friendship was beautiful, nurturing and life affirming. I loved that they had so much to offer each other in their unique ways, they learned so much from each other without imposing on each other. Those moments in the book were truly touching. Suzanne's relationship with musician Matt was also touching, I enjoyed the musical connections and liked the references to songs and music as chapter titles.
I recommend this novel for anyone over the age of 15+ as some of the content is mature and confronting. It is a book about mental illness and wellness, it is about trust and dependency and the changing nature of relationships.
4 stars out of 5.
Sandra Ciccarello

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