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BROKEN SOUP by Jenny Valentine Kirkus Star

BROKEN SOUP

By Jenny Valentine

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-085071-5
Publisher: HarperTeen

Fifteen-year-old Rowan—clever, introspective and stressed—is holding her grieving, broken family together with elbow grease and well-told lies. Lacking parental support and missing her late brother Jack, Rowan focuses entirely on the day-to-day business of keeping her five-year-old sister Stroma fed, occupied and happy. Into this sad monotony drops Harper, a cute American bearing a photographic negative he insists belongs to Rowan. The photo, developed with help from would-be friend Bee, reveals Jack’s face, full of joyous life. The shock of this mysterious gift prompts Rowan to build a makeshift family for herself, first relying on Bee and her father Carl, then befriending and falling for Harper. The narrative takes several dramatic turns—Rowan discovers Bee and Jack’s romance, and her mother attempts suicide—but Valentine handles each one with a light touch, letting Rowan’s warmth and grit, as well as her loneliness and resentment shine through on each page. This is rich, satisfying storytelling, indeed. (Fiction. YA)