Author: Katie Finn
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge #1
Published: expected May 13 2014
Source: I received an ARC from MacMillan for review
Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!
Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?
When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.
Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is?
Katie Finn hits all the right notes in this perfect beginning to a new summer series: A Broken Hearts & Revenge novel.
THIS IS A RATHER SPOILERY REVIEW FOR THE NOVEL. PLEASE DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE NOVEL.
An unexpected but thoroughly entertaining amount of fun, Katie Finn's first Broken Hearts & Fences novel does not disappoint. If the plot of twisty, angry revenge played out by passive-aggressive teenagers in the Hamptons doesn't sound like a good time to you, you need to sort out your priorities, mate. Though the main plot is wrapped up in the Hallie and Gemma/Sophie drama from before and in the current time, the romantic sideplot is also well-rendered and contains an excellent male love interest. For several reasons, I found myself drawn into Finn's story and ended it eagerly awaiting the sequel.
While reading this, I was struck by how much it felt almost like a murderless Dangerous Girls. The hidden machinations behind the smiles of these two "friends" are in earnest. A lot of teens like to say they "hate" this or that, but Gemma and Hallie know what it is like to really hate another. They know, in detail, what it is like to have a genuine enemy -- a Moriarty to a Sherlock, a Five-Fingered Man to an Inigo Montoya* situation. While neither truly is worse than the other, I admit I was seriously concerned when Gemma plotted having Hallie eat peanuts when she was allergic. That right there, my friend, is pure insanity and so very dangerous. Even if Gemma's other, final plan had much worse repercussions, the fact that was by accident and the anaphylaxis was planned and executed is just.. chilling.
Over the course of the novel both girls go to different depths to achieve their respective goals and it is not a pretty picture that emerges at the end of 350 pages. These are not perfect, nice little Upper East Side princesses, but careful and smart young women who know entirely too much about one another. It seems to be becoming a bit of a cliche, but books set in the Hamptons are notorious for the backbiting and frenemies, the fake people and the partying, all of which Broken Hearts, Fences, & Other Things to Mend have in spades.
Finn is a smart writer. Her writing itself is strong and genuine, but the smartest thing she does is pepper the narrative with small hints and allusions to other, more mysterious parts of the novel. While I had a theory early on about Hallie's relationship with Sophie/Gemma, it's not an obvious twist. The clues are subtle and hidden in the story really well -- if I hadn't had a hunch, I would have missed it entirely until the big finale. I have another theory floating about Karen, the mysterious missing mom of Hallie -- but that will have to wait until the next book.
The first in a series, Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend was exactly what its being advertised as -- a great summer read for the YA-loving crowd. It's light and fluffy (especially the slow burn romance between Gemma and Josh), but there are darker themes and often unpleasant characters. Finn makes the whole endeavor into subversive schadenfreude quite fun, and it's a great launching point for whatever follows in Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold.
*credit to Gillian of Writer of Wrongs