Book Review: ‘Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend’ by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fences by Katie FinnBriefly: Gemma Tucker has the perfect boyfriend. Teddy is always doing good, starting “Save the Warbler” clubs and watching documentaries about the plight of something. Truth is, Gemma feels like she needs to have a do-gooder in her life to make up for something horrible she did that summer when she was eleven. When Teddy breaks up with her unexpectedly, it derails her plans to go with him to Columbia to build latrines and things. Since her mother and stepfather are heading off to Scotland, she will need to stay with her dad in Los Angeles. Except he’s not in Los Angeles this summer. He’s in The Hamptons. Which was, unfortunately, the scene of her youthful crime.

On the train to The Hamptons, she meets a cute boy who is heading in the same direction. She’s definitely not over her break-up, but enjoys her time on the train, chatting with Josh and drinking her coffee that her best friend Sophie bought for her before she left. This pleasant time nearly disappears when Josh’s sister picks him up at the station: it’s Hallie, the girl that Gemma wronged so long ago. But since Josh thinks her name is Sophie (the name on the coffee cup), can Gemma pretend to be Sophie and try to get to know Hallie and get her to like her again? She will absolutely tell her who she is (eventually), but hopefully by then, Hallie can forgive her.

But something is happening between Gemma/Sophie and Josh, and between a lot of minor-ish catastrophes that seem to plague Gemma, she starts to see Josh as more than a friend. She still plans on righting wrongs with Hallie; she just didn’t count on the real Sophie showing up.

Didja Like It?: This book super frustrated me. It took me much longer than usual to get through this story, mostly because of the way the drama was laid out. From the start, the action was pretty transparent; the pretending to be someone else, the problems with the bathing suit falling apart in the pool, the missing shoes, the horrible twins. I had to keep putting the book down because I knew what was going to happen and I couldn’t watch.

Anything Else to Mention?: I really, really, really don’t like books where the action is centered on a lie that can be easily undone or is so flimsy that you’re just waiting for it to fall apart. I don’t know why; I guess it is because you know that everything that happens up to the point where the truth is discovered just won’t matter any more; it immediately becomes unimportant, moot, over. So, what’s the point of rooting for Gemma and Josh if it’s over when the lie unravels (which you know it will)? He’s already stated many times that he can’t abide liars. So, if he relents and forgives Gemma, what does that say about his integrity?

The other thing that bothered me is difficult to explain. I can completely understand why Gemma did what she did when she was a kid. How she did it is another story. It seems waaaay to maturely thought-out and over-the-top. Things that a nice eleven-year-old wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do. And Gemma seems like your average nice girl, since, other than that one summer, there’s no evidence that she’s repeated these offenses in any way. On the other hand, you only read what she did once, and as bad as the things she did were, because they are barely spoken of, they don’t seem that important. They’re glossed over, though we are told to believe that they were so horrific (and they are), yet I don’t feel that they are horrible. And because the surrounding story is just your average summer fun story, that seems to take your mind off of level of terrible that Gemma did, averaging them into something, well, average.

To Read or Not To Read: It just wasn’t something that I enjoyed much. In addition to all my previous comments, there were many questions alluded to or pointed out, but never answered. Then I figured out why. There’s a sequel.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn was published May 13, 2014 by Feiwel & Friends. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library.

Rating: 2.5
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 13 and up

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