At its roots, How to Get Your Heart Broken, by Rose Fall, feels solid. A group of high school friends spend the summer before heading to college at the beach, finding out who they are, and for Eli, mending her broken heart. Described as “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets John Tucker Must Die”, it feels a little like both, but the story eventually gets overwhelmed by one too many things going on.
After Eli finds her boyfriend cheating on her, she seeks an escape. She heads to the beach to spend the summer before college with her two best friends. When Eli is unable to move past the betrayal, the girls devise a distraction; a bet about their handsome neighbor. Yet their thoughtless competition goes too far and their friendships are tested as they began to wonder how much they really know about each other and themselves. In the chaos, they manage to learn the truth about love, self-acceptance, and the journey back from rock bottom.
I liked the friendship story, but it kept getting interrupted by the love story. I liked the love story, but it kept getting interrupted by the friendship story, and soon I felt as though I had a slight case of whiplash, especially as plot points were introduced to move one story ahead, leaving the other in murky waters. And, the plot device from which everything stemmed-a bet between the girls-stood on rocky ground from the beginning, with no real definition.
Eli had her heart-broken on graduation night and heads to the beach with her best friends, Rachel and Ashton, to try to mend her heart. Each girl has their own demons to slay as they move into adulthood and are easy to identify with for the book’s target audience. As the summer progresses, secrets are revealed, which challenge girls to not only look inward, but to redefine their approach to friendship. Introducing summer romance to this seems natural, but having it stem from a bet added unnecessary drama.
There’s great potential is Eli and Jessie’s romance. Eli is angry and sworn off boys for the foreseeable future. Jessie is the opposite of everything Eli believes boys his age are: he’s kind, funny, and sincere. A summer of him slowly trying to win Eli over would have made for a fun story. Instead, it gets bogged down with guilt and melodrama because the girls know what they’re doing is wrong, and, naturally, Eli falls for Jessie and inevitably breaks his heart. I’ve seen this thing done well in John Tucker Must Die and She’s All That, but author Fall never makes the bet feel important unless it’s to make Eli feel guilty and, of course, as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
How to Get Your Heart Broken is a light read with a steady pace. 3 stars as I liked it. Heat level: 1 (some kissing and hints of intimacy)
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for honest feedback.
How to Get Your Heart Broken was published in March 2016 by the author.