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What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass

What's Broken Between Us

by Alexis Bass

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Actual Rating: 3.5

I am so torn about this one.

Firstly, I have said this before, and I will say it again. I hate characters who cheat. I absolutely despise them, and chances are, if a main character ends up cheating, I'll hate the entire book as well.

Which is why I am so shocked at myself for finishing this book without spiraling into angry insanity.

The characters - Amanda, to be specific - did go through some character development, but afterwards, there were still moments that I really cannot handle.

Hm, for example, this is how Graham's confrontation with Amanda about her cheating goes down.

"I'm so sorry," I say. "Henry knew what I was going through and -"
"That's such bullshit!" he cries.

And even though I don't like Graham, I quite agree.
Amanda's desperate self-victimization annoys me to no end.

Why don't we look at another example, this time between Amanda and her best friend?
After their fight, Amanda decides to apologize to Dawn. And yet, she manages to squeeze in a few words that remind Dawn that it's not completely her fault. Here is what she says:

Oh, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Henry. I treated it like a shameful secret, because I'm so used to shameful secrets.


But I do see where her personality comes from: her mother, who is even weaker and spineless than she is. And it is in her mother's weak moments, where we are finally able to see Amanda's strength begin to surface.

When Amanda returns home with her brother Jonathan, her mother is indifferent, and Amanda is brave enough to confront her mother about her abysmal parenting.

"You're not going to ask what happened?" I yell at her silence. My screaming contains the rage of all the years she didn't ask.
"I don't want to know!" she shouts back - and it's the most helpless sound.

You don't want to know? YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW?
What kind of mother gives such a shitty excuse and needs her teenage daughter to tell them how to take care of your children?
I just...no. No, no, no.

So basically, many of the characters are awful. And yet, Alexis Bass' writing style is absolutely perfect.

Specifically, my favorite parts are the ones about "diffusion of responsibility", which made me really think about my own life. And the way Bass referred back to it when Jonathan was being arrested...

Feels, I tell you.

So overall, what made What's Broken Between Us crumble were simply the dislikeable characters, but the surreal writing style brought some of it back.

If I were to recommend this book to anyone, it would simply be because of the beautiful quotes. And so, let me end this review on one of those moments:

"Just forget it," she says, hanging up.
By now, I know: people only ever say that about things that are impossible to really forget. ( )
  CatherineHsu | Mar 20, 2016 |
I never really connected with this book. The plot was slow and the characters tedious. They kept making mistakes and wrong choices, but never learnt from them. I was glad to reach the end, which was ho hum. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Mar 1, 2016 |
I think we all have that one person in our life.

The one who is no good for anyone, especially themselves. Self-destructive and self-disciplining.

The one that doesn’t try to do better. Just wallows in self-pity and hatred and regret.

The ones you can only watch and hope that one day they come to their senses and get their life’s together.

I’ve had my share of these people pass through my life. (and a lot of them are my family, so I can’t really get away from them). Watching it unfold between the pages of What’s Broken Between Us was equally heartbreaking and reassuring.

I adored this book. I devoured it after work and between workouts. I thought about it when I was cooking and doing laundry. In other words, this book consumed my life.

Maybe it was the flowing prose and the relatable story. It might have been the characters that I grew to care about (and then want to smack them every time they did something stupid).

Amanda. Amander. (I read most of this book in Henry’s British accent because it was actually believable). She is one of those characters that doesn’t feel like a character in a book but more like someone you’d meet in life.

That’s how I felt for all the other characters too. Mumsy and Standard Dad (LOVED THAT, BTW). Henry and Sutton. They all felt real. And most of all, Jonathan. He was the most authentic. This is how people with a substance abuse problem act (and Jonathan with his PTSD, probably). They’re careless with their lifes and others. It was just overwhelming to read sometimes, but I couldn’t stop.

What’s Broken Between Us is a true to life look at what happens after a tragedy strikes a family-a community-a friendship. It’s a tale of forgiveness and acceptance. A beautiful contemporary.

  emily.s | Feb 4, 2016 |
“It’s not my job to restore anyone’s faith in humanity. ‘Look how someone awful can turn their life around; look how he learned from his mistakes, look how we can all learn.’ It’s such shit. People shouldn’t need me to tell them that murder is wrong and jail is awful.”

Johnathan killed Grace, his best friend, and nearly paralyzed his girlfriend, Sutton, when driving drunk to a party the night of graduation. After being accused of manslaughter, Johnathan appears on a TV interview and is completely unapologetic for what had happened. This interview is what started the downward spiral for all involved.

Amanda is Johnathan’s younger sister and was present at the party the night he and his friends got in the car. After the interview, she felt that it was up to her to be the apologetic one and refuses to show her real emotions. She has a boyfriend, but he’s irrelevant and seems like a placeholder until Henry pops up. Another placeholder is Amanda’s best friend, Dawn, who she only communicates with through texts and a few phone calls. I can’t say much about Dawn without giving spoilers, but she wasn’t a very good friend.

Henry is Sutton’s younger brother. He and Amanda were just starting a relationship when the accident happened, and suddenly pops back in when Johnathan is released from jail. He has a girlfriend, until his interest wanders back to Amanda. In basic terms; he’s a jerk. He can see every flaw in Johnathan, but refuses to see Sutton has her own problems (and the fact that she and Grace were also smashed the night of the accident).

Johnathan himself is a character that doesn’t even seek redemption for his actions. He’s broken and knows it, but refuses to be fixed in a sort of self appointed punishment. He has breakthrough moments when it comes to Amanda, his sister is one person he really cares for.

I have to mention Grace’s nonexistent friends. It was mentioned over and over how sweet and kind and presumably popular Grace was, but the only friends mentioned were Johnathan and Sutton. Obviously, a few of Grace’s friends wrecking havoc at school for Amanda would have made the book more interesting.

Again, as in most YA novels, the parents are nearly nonexistent. Johnathan and Amanda’s “Standard Dad” takes parenting like he’s reading from a manual, and their mother spends her days at the club. Sutton and Henry’s parents barely make the book.

It’s the romance that really drags this book down. Amanda and Henry, as stated before, both have a boyfriend/girlfriend, but are quick to dismiss them. Then those characters just fall into a blackhole and are never heard from again. It’s not realistic at all that these two, who had not spoken to each other after over a year and a half, suddenly pick up on a relationship that had not even started and become that intense.

Other than a lot of drama, nothing happens in the book. There’s no real climax, no revealing moment, no in-your-face screaming match; just a simple fade-to-black ending. ( )
  ReadingBifrost | Jan 20, 2016 |
This book was so good, yet so sad. There's a party. And everyone who is anyone is there. Having a good time, having some drinks. And when it's time to go home, In spite of having too much to drink, Jonathan gets behind the wheel of the car with his girlfriend and best friend also in the car with tragic results.
This story is about Jonathan and his family and how they cope with the aftermath. His sister Amanda is a pariah to many, Jonathan has gone from being the person everyone wants to know and be friends with, to someone no one wants to even bring up in conversation much less associate with. Their parents, whose main rule was there are no rules are in total denial. And Jonathan himself is spiralling out of control. And it isn't just Amanda's family that is affected.
This book gives so much awareness to the whole drinking and driving issue. Coming from an era where the least drunk person drove home, we had no idea how lucky we were. So many people nowadays still could be Jonathan. This book reveals that anyone could be Jonathan, one split second of a bad decision can have lifetime consequences. Everyone gets a holier than thou attitude when something like this happens when in reality it could have happened to them, they were just luckier.
I was so sad for the family. Can you heal after something like that? Life will be forever changed, the elephant will always be in the room.
I love a book that makes me think. One that makes me feel and become engrossed in the story. While the main story was of a serious nature, there was some romance in there that fit well into the story and should appeal to a large group of readers, I loved it. ( )
  maggie1961 | Jan 12, 2016 |
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"A teenage girl must heal and learn to love again when her brother returns from jail after causing a drunk driving accident that changed their lives forever"--

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