Thursday 4 August 2022

Book Review: Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard book cover

AD* | 'This time around, I'm going to be so much better. I'm going to prove to them that it was worth waiting on me.'

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She's back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they're about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you're the one left behind?

How do you piece yourself back together when you've been broken?

Fierce Fragile Hearts is the second book in the Beautiful Broken Things duology. The first book focused mainly on Caddy, while this sequel picks up the narrative in order to tell Suzanne's story. I think you would struggle to understand a lot of what happens in this book if you haven't previously read Beautiful Broken Things. It's largely focused on Suzanne's recovery and what happens next to the trio of friends, much of which would have little meaning without the necessary context applied from book one.

Suzanne is a rich, complex character with plenty of hidden depths. She is a walking contradiction - she loves to put on a mask and excels in company, yet she is also afraid of showing her true self to anyone new. She is fiercely protective of her two best friends, Caddy and Rosie, yet can't help but lapse back into her old destructive behaviours when they leave for university. 

Suzanne is certainly an interesting character to read about, yet despite this, I still found the book somewhat lacking compared to Beautiful Broken Things. Maybe it was the naivety of Caddy's narration, or the coming-of-age storyline just bore more weight, but either way, I definitely preferred Beautiful Broken Things to Fierce Fragile Hearts. This book is great if you enjoyed the first book and want to find out what happens next, but I do think it would be a struggle for a new reader to make the most of the story. 

That being said, it was a joy to read a book that focused on friendship above romance. So much YA lit is focused on love interests, and while there is an element of romance in this book, it certainly isn't the main plot. The friendship that Suzanne, Caddy, and Rosie share really is something special - they are simply each other's people. Another highlight is the unlikely friendship that develops between Suzanne and Dilys. It's endearing, heartwarming, and just so sweet.

Fierce Fragile Hearts has a strong sense of place running throughout the book. In this story, we return once again to Brighton, where the girls' story began. Brighton acts almost like an anchor for a character like Suzanne who drifts through life, never staying in one place long enough to settle down and grow roots. Brighton is the anomaly, the one place she feels like she truly belongs. 

Fierce Fragile Hearts is an emotionally-charged story of friendship, heartache, and navigating the complexities of life.

Rating: 3 stars

Fierce Fragile Hearts is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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