Book Review: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

The year we fell apart cover

The Year We Fell Apart  
by Emily Martin
Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: January 26th 2016
Rating: Coulda been better

This book wasn't as good as it could have been.  It is the story of seventeen year old Harper set in the summer between her junior and senior years of high school.  She has been engaging in some destructive behavior (I am basing this on the fact that she feels frantic, out of control, and unhappy with her choices) since she broke up with her boyfriend last year after he moved away.  Enter Declan, the ex boyfriend, into her life again and the plot is set for many a terrible choice and misunderstanding.

One of the problems that I had while reading was the lack of intimacy.  The book is set up as a girl's intensely personal journey through destructive behavior and towards self forgiveness.  Which I am all for.  However, the reader never really gets close enough to Harper. I just finished the book and I don't really have a mental picture of Harper aside from being tall and not as thin as she used to be.  I never really understood how she thinks, why she feels the way she feels, and what her motivations for acting out are.  It seemed to be self perpetuating, "I am bad because I drink and make out with guys so I am going to drink and make out with guys." If a character is engaging in destructive behavior I need to know what is driving her.  I should ache for her to make the "right" choices, the healthy, safe choices while completely understanding why she doesn't. This also would have made the theme of self forgiveness more powerful.  

Unfortunately this book was rife with slutshaming.  Yes, it is about a girl in high school and yes she does make out with some guys so I was expecting some towards Harper. I was disappointed that Harper herself often mentally slutshames her friend Sadie and even her other friends.  There is also a scene where she talks about being a virgin that made me uncomfortable.  It was as if the author was saying that if Harper had actually slept with all the guys that she made out with then she would be unforgivable.   It also pissed me off that the whole school and her parents were completely comfortable putting all the blame on her.  Why is it still okay for guys to sleep around and make stupid choices but not for  girls?  Why is having a "reputation" still a thing?  If the book had explored the unfairness of this or how it impacted Harper's life I would have been much more satisfied with it.

I did appreciate that Harper had strong friendships and family relationships.  It was one of the more interesting aspects of her character.  She would get into a situation and need help and know that she had people to call on to come and get her and then actually would call them.  

This wasn't a terrible book.  There was some decent writing and some of it was adorable. It just could have been much better.

From Goodreads:
Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.