Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Feature: Broken by CJ Lyons {Review+Guest Post}

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Broken
   by: CJ Lyons

Publication Date: Nov. 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 336 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars


The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

 
My Review:
 
When I first saw this pop up on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. First of all- how gorgeous is that cover? I have SUCH cover love for this book! Second- that blurb? A book about a girl with a rare heart condition who longs to go to school and be a normal kid for once and experience all the things high school has to offer? I was sold. When I saw there was a bit of a mystery thrown in, that sweetened the deal even more! I have to say- I didn't have any idea as to the direction the book would take until the last 1/4 and I was completely stunned by the turn of events.
 
Scarlet has spent her life being sick. She has a heart condition by the name of Long QT Syndrome (which is real!) and after several close calls, she has not been allowed to go to school and live like a normal teenager. She desperately wants to feel normal and experience the things other kids her age do- going to school, taking classes, making friends... However, with an overprotective stepmother who is also a nurse, Scarlet has not been allowed the chance to do those things. Until now.
 
Her parents have agreed to let her go a few days to school to get a feel for it and try it out. However, Scarlet doesn't want to be the center of attention- or known as the freak girl with the heart condition. She wants to slip under the radar, not drawing any attention to herself. It's difficult to do that when she is forced to roll a backpack around that carries her AED. I was absolutely appalled at how Scarlet was treated by her peers that first day of school. She is instantly pushed around, bullied, and made fun of and if I had been in her shoes, I probably would've taken off and hid out in the bathroom for the day. Scarlet is a trooper though. She is determined to survive the day and not let jerk football players or haughty upperclassmen ruin her experience. Scarlet has been sheltered by her stepmom for so long, that she comes across as quite naïve. She is too trusting of others and she is led to believe her peers are curious about her condition, when really they are looking for more things to use against her-to humiliate her.
 
She does make a few good friends along the way- Jordan, Nessa, and Celina are all part of a Peer Mentoring group and they really stick together. Scarlet is filled with joy that there are people who are willing to stand up for her. I liked Jordan's character, but I thought Lyons would take his character in a different direction that she did. Jordan also shares lockers with her and he is one of the first people to show her kindness in her new school. She finds herself attracted to this boy, yet she can't figure him out either. Nessa was not my favorite friend to be honest. Nessa was a bit back and forth with Scarlet. It bothered me that she blamed Scarlet for things her mom was doing when Scarlet had no knowledge of this. Scarlet blindly trusts her mom- she's been the one person there for Scarlet all these years, taking care of her- making sure she is healthy and taking her medicine. What girl wouldn't trust that her mother knows best? Scarlet definitely wasn't used to this kind of drama and the last thing she wanted was to lose friends.
 
I also really liked Tony's character in the novel. Tony is another person who made Scarlet feel like a normal girl. After watching her take a stand against a bully, he admires her resolve and wants to get to know her. He ends up partnering them up in Biology, not because he feels bad for her or that she almost puked on his shoes, but because he genuinely wants to pair up with her. Tony, like Jordan, will also stand up for her, which leaves her confused about her feelings. Nessa tells her both are interested in her, which leaves Scarlet a little flabbergasted. She's never had to deal with emotions and feelings for boys before and at 15 watching her deal with them is awkward but completely realistic and I loved that. Tony not only stands up for her, but he genuinely wants to help her too. As the two work on a genetics project for history, the two learn more about Scarlet's health history than they ever bargained for. Suddenly, things are not so clear and Scarlet must force herself to look at things from every angle, no matter how much it may hurt her.
 
The coolest thing about this book is that it is set in the span of 5 days. The book is also divided that way, which at first I thought would bother me, but it didn't at all. I felt the pacing was just right and I didn't find myself getting bogged down with the plot. I did feel the ending was a tad bit rushed, though. We have the build up and then it just seemed like everything was resolved rather quickly. I do like that Lyons provided us with a view of what happens after that last day so we can see how Scarlet's story progresses from there.
 
Overall, this is a compelling story about a girl with a rare heart condition that longs to experience the world as normal teenagers do and be able to have those social interactions that she is not getting staying isolated at home. Watching her navigate the storm known as high school is both emotionally heartbreaking and filling at the same time.  
 
 
 
 
 
~Guest Post with CJ Lyons~
 
Top Ten Things Scarlet Wishes She Could Do During Her Time At High School
 
I am so excited to have CJ on the blog today so she can share Scarlet's top ten with all of you!
 
CJ: Wow, great question, Jessica! I'm going to give you Scarlet's Top Ten from when she starts the book- since she changes so very much by the end.
 
#10: To make it through security without someone yelling "bomb!" when they see her AED.
 
#9: To find something edible in the school lunch.
 
#8: To spend every free period (including gym!) in the school library surrounded by her best friends: books.
 
#7: To be at a school where the school nurse in charge of making sure you take your meds and that your heart isn't ready to go all spastic ISN'T her stepmom.
 
#6: To come home at night and be able to tell her parents all the great things that happened at school that day.
 
#5: To go to a game and cheer with the crowd.
 
#4: To know what it feels like to be part of a team- one that isn't filled with doctors and nurses and interns who just want to cut you up and see what makes you sick.
 
#3: To stand up for a friend and know that you've done the right thing when no one else had the guts to do it.
 
#2: To kiss a boy without her heart stampeding off a cliff, taking her along with it.
 
And the #1 thing Scarlet wishes for when she starts high school: To be "just" a normal girl with normal hopes and dreams... and most of all, friends.
 
 
About CJ Lyons:
 
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.
Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).
 
Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net

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6 comments

  1. Great review Jessica. I honestly don't know if I could handle this book, because I have no tolerance for bullying especially when it is someone who is sick and it is something completely out of their control. Not that any bullying is ever okay, but when the person is sick... no.... just no. This does sound like a good story and the way it is written interesting. Maybe one day when I can reign in the anger!

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    1. Yes. That was the hardest part to read because it made me sick at how AWFUL her peers were. I'm so fortunate to work in a school where kids with special needs and things of that nature are treated with utmost respect from the other kids.

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  2. Love that cover! That's definitely the love child of A Map of The Known World and Twenty Boy Summer lol.

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    1. Haha yes! I do like the cover- it's super neat! And really fitting to the story!

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  3. Awesome review! I am super intrigued by this, espeically after reading yours and Tonya's reviews. I also really like the cover too!

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    1. Thanks girl! It was a really fast paced, interesting read!

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