Title: What’s Broken Between Us
Author: Alexis Bass
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Genre: General Fiction, Young Adult
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What’s Broken Between Us
HarperTeen, December 2015
From the publisher—
Look to the left, look to the right. We’re all going to die. But someone has to do it first. So who’s it going to be?
Tragedy struck Amanda Tart’s town a year and a half ago when a sophomore girl was killed in a car accident on graduation night.
Amanda’s brother, Jonathan, was behind the wheel and too drunk to drive. He’s spent the past year in prison and has cut off all ties. But now Jonathan is coming home. Just as Amanda’s trying to figure out what that means for her family and herself, she’s paired up for a school project with Henry Crane—a former crush, and brother of Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend, who survived the crash with horrible injuries.
Everyone is still incredibly damaged by the events of that night. Can Amanda and Henry finally begin to heal what’s broken and find some peace?
I’m full of conflicting feelings about this book and I both like and don’t like it, leaning more heavily to the liking end.
Who among us has not been affected, either directly or indirectly, by a drunk driving incident in high school, almost always revolving around either prom or graduation. For me, having grown up in a fairly good-sized city and its surrounding counties, such memories do exist and it almost seems like a required rite of passage. The problem hasn’t gotten any less serious, either; there are still drunk driving deaths every spring and, whether we know the kids or not, we all mourn the loss of so much promise.
There have been books on this subject before but Ms. Bass quite imaginatively approaches it very differently. We still see the fallout suffered by family and friends but the main character is the sister of the drunk driver, not the direct victim or a survivor. Amanda is damaged almost as much as anyone else and I see her as someone who tries her level best to not do or say anything that’s going to cause the slightest bit of controversy. Amanda walks through life like a shadow of her true self, very carefully, like a tightrope walker who must place each step extremely carefully, looking neither to left or right. Some of the decisions she’ll make once Jonathan has come home are really questionable but perhaps not surprising although I can’t condone her treatment of Graham no matter what her reasons.
Jonathan is also a surprise. Unlike other stories in which the drunk driver “sees the light” and takes his punishment to heart, this boy is doing his utmost to alienate everyone and he’s a poster child for recidivism. There doesn’t seem to be any way for him to make up for what happened but, perhaps more importantly, Jonathan doesn’t appear to care or to want any kind of redemption.
There is a lot of darkness and unhappiness in What’s Broken Between Us and the ending will not satisfy some readers. For me, it made the most sense because, after all, terrible events rarely have unabashedly happy resolutions. Most of all, drunk driving must always be seen as the worst choice to make.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.
About the Author
Alexis Bass grew up in Washington, went to college in Arizona, and spent her early twenties in Seattle. She currently lives in Northern California with Dylan McKay, her gorgeous and rambunctious golden retriever. She loves good fashion and good TV as much as a good book, and is a huge advocate of the three C’s: coffee, chocolate, and cheese. LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES is her first novel.
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