Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: When Reason Breaks by Cindy Rodriguez

When Reason Breaks 13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

My Review:

I sped through this book in two days, and I loved it.  It was a quick read, and the characters really wrapped themselves around my heart by the end of the book.  I cared about both Emily and Elizabeth and I wanted them both to be okay at the end of the story.


Emily is someone whose life may not look too bad from the outside, but that doesn't mean that it's actually as good as it may seem to others.  She seems like she has good friends, is popular, has a sweet boyfriend, and a good family.  What she is hiding from others is her fear of slipping up and making her father mad at her.  As a politician, he is scared of her doing anything that might tarnish his reputation.  She knows that anything she does could be scrutinized and in the public eye.  Her relationship with Kevin is a bright spot in her life, though that's certainly not perfect either.  I wasn't a particularly big fan of her friends, especially Abby.  Abby did something that involved posting something online that made me not really like her.

The other main character is this story was Elizabeth, a goth girl who often gave people attitude.  She was different from Emily, in that people at school weren't as accepting of her, sometimes calling her "Elizagoth."  She may have made some mistakes in her behavior, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't a good person on the inside.  It was heartwarming to see how much she cared about her younger sister, and her mom too, though there were some more difficulties in that relationship.  Her friendship with Tommy was sweet, and it was nice to read about it and wonder whether it would become a romantic relationship.

Something this book did that I don't think I've seen very often is showing the impact that one teacher can have on her students.  Ms. Diaz was that teacher for both Emily and Elizabeth.  Both girls connected to Emily Dickinson's poetry, as well as to Ms. Diaz herself.  She showed how much she cared about them, which made me think of the quote, "[Students] won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."  Ms. Diaz discovered that in this book, as well as discovering how much she truly did care about her students.

If you like YA contemporary with emotional parts, read this book.


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