Broken Soup
by Valentine, Jenny
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Book list Fifteen-year-old Rowan is still adjusting to life following her older brother's death. Her dad is only an occasional presence, and her mother lies in bed all day in a fog of grief, which leaves Rowan to take care of her little sister, Stroma. Rowan's far too busy to mourn, until one day a strange boy hands her a photo negative he says fell out of her bag. With her new friend Bee (who's a bit enigmatic herself), Rowan develops the negative and finds a candid photograph of her brother. The mystery Valentine sets in motion is quickly paced and packed with revelations that, while always plausible, sometimes tread too far into gotcha territory. The main appeal of the book, however, is her beautifully modulated tone; Valentine is the rare young-adult author who does not overuse dialogue. Insightful details abound, particularly concerning Rowan's growing relationship with the boy and the resulting reintroduction to her London home, both elements that mirror Valentine's theme of developing. An ideal book for those dealing with the crushing loneliness that follows a death.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Rowan lives in a house that has been turned into a mausoleum. Her older brother drowned on vacation, and now her family is drowning in grief. Her parents have split, her mother has retreated into a haze of pills and sleep, and the 15-year-old has become the caregiver for her 6-year-old sister. She numbly moves along this path until the day a boy in a coffee shop hands her a photo negative that he mistakenly thinks fell out of her bag. This simple action sets off a surprising chain reaction of events. She meets Bee, who was in the coffee shop at the time, and learns of a connection between the older girl and her brother. She also discovers some amazing things about the people around her, slowly brings life back to her broken family, and even finds love. Some readers may find this book a little slow to start, but once past the first two chapters, they will be sucked into the puzzle. The short chapters reveal many kind and thoughtful people who are willing to help Rowan, and the dynamics among characters ring true. Give this poignant, rewarding story to teens who need books dealing with grief or who crave romance amid tragedy and hardship.-Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Valentine's second novel (following the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize winner Me, the Missing, and the Dead) focuses on British teenager Rowan and her younger sister, Stroma, who are left to fend for themselves following their older brother Jack's sudden death two years earlier. Their parents having since divorced, Rowan must care for Stroma and their depressed mother. Rowan continues to find herself lonely and overwhelmed; "It's hard to adjust your eyes to something that's dark where it should be light," she reflects while staring at a negative she is given, which turns out to be a photo of her brother. A chance encounter with Harper, a world traveler who lands in her town, leads her to meeting lively Bee and developing a whole new "family" ("Some families we get without asking, while others we choose. And I chose those two"). The story is delicately written, and mysteries and revelations involving Jack propel it forward. A solid tale of what it takes to grow up and how to ask for help. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved