Title: The Year We Fell Apart
Author: Emily Martin
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
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.
4.5 / 5 Stars
The Year We Fell Apart is a coming of age romance about a soon-to-be high school senior, Harper Sloan. Harper earned a bad reputation last year after an encounter in the school pool. Her actions got her kicked off the swim team. The past year has been tough and it looks like this summer will be no different. Her mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer and her best friend turned boyfriend turned ex-boyfriend, Declan, is back from boarding school.
Harper knows her relationship with Declan is over, but she can’t help the feelings she has when he’s around. She wants nothing more than to repair their relationship, but Declan obviously wants nothing to do with her. So Harper does what she’s done best this past year, she lets the rumors surrounding her define her.
The Year We Fell Apart broke my heart over and over again. It did it slowly, throughout the entire book. Each major revelation crushed me and made me see each character in a different light. They were constantly evolving, as were their relationships with each other.
Harper was a tough character to like. Honestly, I wanted to give her a good shake! The way she let her bad reputation define her and how she used it to cope with life was frustrating. I hated how she became what her harassers said about her. Her way of coping hurt her more than it helped her, and it was painful to read. I wanted her to dig herself out of the hole she was creating, but she had no desire to do so.
Harper’s relationship with Declan and it’s demise was sad and, at times, mysterious. She obviously blamed herself, but as the story unfolded I could see that Declan wasn’t as perfect as Harper made him out to be. The back and forth of their friendship/relationship during the summer made things harder for her. Like many teenage girls, she was basing her life and her self-confidence around a boy.
What really broke my heart, though, was the last fourth of the book. Even after she began to work through her problems with Declan, she continued to put herself in bad situations. And when she finally stood up for herself, it was kind of too late. Her actions exploded in her face. It was really sad because truly wasn’t a horrible person.
Here’s the thing about The Year We Fell Apart, though. No matter how frustrated with Harper I was, I couldn’t put the book down. I loved it. It was so beautifully written and filled with emotion. Even when I hated a character, I loved them. I wanted to see them overcome their problems and be happy.
I can’t believe this is Emily Martin’s debut novel. I’m incredibly excited to see what comes next. (I would love a follow up to The Year We Fell Apart or a second book about Chris.)