Monday, February 21, 2011

Jenny Valentine's Broken Soup

This was one of the more touching YA books I've read recently. No wonder that Broken Soup by award winning Jenny Valentine received great reviews.

This is what the blurb says:
An intriguing, compelling and moving new novel from the award-winning author of Finding Violet Park. When the good-looking boy with the American accent presses the dropped negative into Rowan's hand, she's sure it's all a big mistake. But next moment he's gone, lost in the crowd of bustling shoppers. And she can't afford to lose her place in the checkout queue -- after all, if she doesn't take the groceries home, nobody else will. Rowan has more responsibilities than most girls her age. These days, she pretty much looks after her little sister single-handedly -- which doesn't leave much time for friends or fun. So when she finds out that Bee from school saw the whole thing, it piques her curiosity. Who was the boy? Why was he so insistent that the negative belonged to Rowan? 
Occasionally, I felt that the style was a bit too distracting, pulling one's attention away from the story to the more stylistic, verbal elements, instead of emphasizing the plot, the characters and the message. It may be that this is because I was translating the book and thus paid more attention to stylistic elements than I would if I were only reading it for pleasure. On the other hand, one could also argue that the unique style matches perfectly the unusual protagonist, Rowan, and the remarkable story of  grief, lost childhood, growing up and finding hope.

The characters in the book are all very memorable. Particularly Rowan with her big heart, tolerance, acceptance and understanding for everything and everyone. She's a much better person than I am and I wished, many times throughout the book, that I could be a bit more like her. But she's not the only character that stays with the reader. Her little sister Stroma, her new friend Bee, the charming Harper, even the dead brother she still mourns with their wonderfully diverse personalities all add something extraordinary to this  enchanting story.

And the ending totally got me. At the same time, I was mad mad mad at Harper, but it also made perfect sense and it was only right that he followed his dream instead of changing just to please Rowan. These kinds of endings are the best, because they're not the cliché happy endings, but they are happy endings in the sense that they're hopeful, open, and more like beginnings than endings. Valentine wrote it perfectly.

Reading this story will leave a mark. I'm glad I had the chance not only to read it, but to translate it so it will be available to even more young readers.


  1. Cool review! Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day! :)

  2. I can't wait until I can get my hands on this one. After reading Jenny Valentine's first novel she is sure quickly on the way to being one of my favorite authors. Her writing style and story ideas are just so intriguing!