The Year We Fell Apart
Author: Emily Martin
Publication Date: January 26th, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Summary: In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.
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.
In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.
Harper spent a lot of her time in love with Declan – years of friendship in which she found herself pining for him, and then a time when they actually dated where she felt on top of the world. Declan loved Harper, and kept loving her, even after he was sent away to boarding school after his mother’s death due to a drunk-driving accident.
While Declan was at boarding school, things seemed to go south for his and Harper’s relationship – eventually things didn’t work out too well. Now Harper feels like her whole world is falling apart – her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she got kicked off the swim team due to a night of fooling around with a boy in the swimming pool, and now she finds herself drinking, partying, and hooking up with boys at any chance she gets. She’s on a pretty bad path, and to make matters worse, Declan is home for the summer, and things are beyond awkward for the two of them. Being forced to take a photography class in summer school doesn’t help, because Declan is in that class, as are two other girls that Harper befriends. Harper and Declan spend a good portion of their summer ping-ponging back and forth between tolerating each other and ignoring each other, when it’s clear to the reader that they both just want to be together again.
Let me tell you know that for most of the book, I wanted to slap Harper. She annoyed me at times, and she was completely hurting not only herself, but those around her who love her, too. But at the same time, I felt connected to her, and I loved her character. I know that probably doesn’t make much sense, but the author captured her character so perfectly that you can’t imagine the book being written with any other kind of personality. I loved her, I felt bad about the struggles she was facing, and how she felt so alone…and all she wanted was Declan back, because she still loved him.
There are lot of contemporary YA novels that deal with a lot of the subject matter in this book – the loved one with cancer, the on again-off again relationship, and the main character losing control of everything more often than not. But this book was special. It was beautifully written and made you fall in love with it, the characters, and the entire idea of love. It was entertaining and was filled with characters that you loved, or loved to hate. The relationship between the main characters (Harper and Declan) was just an in-your-face disaster that you still found yourself hoping that they ended up together in the end. While both characters spend the majority of the novel acting like jerks to each other, you just know that they belong together, and you really want them to just stop with pretending they’re over each other and kiss already.
Ah yes, YA romance. How I love thee.
But really, this book is captivating. Not only did I want to be a part of Harper and Declan’s world, I felt like I actually was. Emily Martin’s writing is beautiful and, at times, heartbreaking, and you really feel like you’ve been drawn into the book. The Year We Fell Apart is a beautiful debut that left me wanting more…I can’t wait to read more of this author’s work in the future.
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Emily Martin lives and writes in the Greater Boston area, though she will always call Michigan home. She has a penchant for impromptu dance parties, vintage clothing, and traveling to new places. When not writing, she can be found hiking New England’s peaks, searching for the perfect cup of hot chocolate, or baking something pumpkin-flavored.
Emily’s debut young adult novel, THE YEAR WE FELL APART, comes out January 26, 2016 from Simon Pulse.
Her work is represented by Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary.