REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Title: Beautiful Broken Girls
Author: Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary with Magical Realism elements
Remember the places you touched me.
The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.
Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.
It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.
This book started off with Virgin Suicides meets 13 Reasons Why type of vibes and then quickly turned into a not fully actualized magical realism YA contemporary. The switch between the two was kind of jarring but this is also the first magical realism novel that I have read so maybe that’s why? I feel like I would have liked it more if I had known about it going in so I could have been looking for signs of it. Which may have been my fault because I didn’t really look into this book too much before reading it.
There was so much I didn’t like about this book and one of my main issues was that Ben and Mira were supposed to be in love and I just didn’t buy into at all. They seemed to barely know each other and Mira even believes an obvious lie about Ben without ever confronting him about it and that’s what “broke them up”. I say that with quotation marks because I don’t think they were ever really dating. Hooking up yes but dating no.
My other big issue with this book is that neither the characters or the story felt fully developed. I found Ben to make the most ridiculous decisions and I was annoyed reading from his perspective most of the time. His character sort of just became a sponge for whatever character he was interacting with at the time. Ben had no real ideas or thoughts for himself. When another character mentions something so far fetched he just immediately believes it and starts spreading it around. Also, why the hell did Mira do everything Francesca wanted to do. Even when her ideas were dumb as hell there was Mira just going right along with it. None of the the other characters are even worth mentioning because they were pretty much the same person just different names. All people that were standing in the way of Ben figuring out Mira’s story. The only other notable character is Ben’s friend Kyle who had some kind of mysterious relationship or interaction with Francesca that we never get to know about.
I did like the darkness of some of the characters and once I got over my shock about the magical realism I enjoyed that too. I just wish so badly that things would have been more fully actualized because I really did enjoy the premise of the story. Also, the ending for me fit into the weirdness of the story and I liked the full circle aspect of it.
This book definitely romanticizes a lot of heavy duty stuff, such as suicide and molestation so I wouldn’t recommend this if that is a deal breaker for you. If you want to know more about how this book romanticizes these issues, you should check out some of the Goodreads reviews of this book because they do a much better job than me at detailing them. I have heard good things about Savage’s other novel, After The Woods, so I think I am going to give that one a try before I decide if this author is for me or not.