Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge #1
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on May 13, 2014
Genres: YA Contemporary
Source: print ARC from the publisher
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.
Summery tales of vengeance and shenanigans are my thing and this novel should be too, but it’s not. There’s no easy answer to why this failed for me on such a deep level. Blind characters doing ridiculous things? The very obvious twist? A meh romance that failed to make up for the previous two problems? Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend starts out as a fun tale of a girl using a case of mistaken identity to make up for what she did wrong so many years ago but quickly goes downhill.
At first, Gemma seemed pretty cool. Once I found out what she did to make her fear going back to the Hamptons so much, Jesus Christ what was wrong with you, girl? What she did was use her father’s email account to email a publishing person implying Hallie’s mom plagiarized and badmouthing her. The gossip spread, her deal for her debut novel got cancelled, and she had to deal with all the hoopla of plagiarism accusations. Five years later after her boyfriend suddenly breaks up with her and the humanitarian mission she was going to go on with him is off, she’s heading back to the Hamptons and Hallie’s family is back too.
That is extraordinarily terrible for an eleven-year-old in denial about the fact her own parents are getting divorced and her father is dating Hallie’s mom, but I can believe it. When I was twelve, I used my best friend’s racial-ethnic identity to manipulate her and keep her away from a girl I disliked because I thought the girl was mean, so I was just as awful then. Thanks goodness I’ve gotten better now. (This is why you shouldn’t believe anyone who says children don’t see race. I saw enough to know what saying someone else called her the n-word would do.) Her desire to make it up to Hallie for what she did at the beginning of the story is the one believable thing.
However, the way she goes about it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. How does Hallie not recognize her between her face and the little things she does that the Gemma from five years ago would know and the “Sophie” of now shouldn’t? How does Gemma not see something is going on when all these awful things start happening to her? The romance between Gemma and Hallie’s older brother Josh is kinda cute, but when it’s built on lies and not that outstanding, it’s not enough to bring me back into Happyland after I’ve gotten a one-way ticket to Grumpsville against my will.
After we got introduced to Hallie and the bathing suit she loaned Gemma fell apart, I got suspicious and starting asking the above questions more and more. My question turned from “How does this work on Hallie?” to “How does Gemma make this work?” A theory developed in the next 50 pages and if you know me, you know my theories are either dead-on or waaaaaaaay out on a limb. After getting to page 200 and being frustrated with the obvious twist and Gemma’s enduring blindness, I flipped to the end to confirm my theory and yep, I was right. It all made sense suddenly and at the same time, it became even more ridiculous.
At that point–about 215 pages plus 20 at the end–I gave up. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend does come with a cliffhanger, so if you want your summer fun to have a solid conclusion, you might be annoyed with the ending here. Though I didn’t personally like it, I could recommend it to some people who want mistaken identities, vengeful silliness, and other such fun in their reads.