Breakaway by Kat Spears
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 15, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Format: Hardcover, ARC
Rerated: 3.5 Stars
4 Stars, Completed September 13, 2015
– SPOILER free –
This book was raw, harsh, and honest.
Breakaway is a story about four teenage boys anticipating the best senior year together. However, this expectation falls short as their relationship becomes more strained. As the school year begins, Jordie is more preoccupied with his new girlfriend and strives to fit in with the privileged, wealthy crowd that he himself was bred into. Mario starts to chill with the addicts on campus and resolves to drugs. Chick having only felt anchored to this world because of his close friends starts to break. And Jaz, after his sister’s death, deals with grief, poverty, and a loneliness he never thought he’d have to face. Then Jaz meets Raine who understands and respects his limits and knows the exact moment to stop questioning him about his sister and his family, yet still is able to see him for who he really is.
In my junior year of high school, my school and town experienced a terrible tragedy. A couple of kids that I grew up decided to drink that night and ended up in a severe car accident. One death and two physically injured. No doubt, the survivors were emotionally traumatized. These were people that I never really had the chance to talk to but we lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same schools, and were Facebook “friends.” Then this past year, a girl that graduated with me in high school was found dead in her dorm. Even though I only exchanged a couple of words with her in our four years of school together, I was incredibly saddened by the news and remembered crying when I received an influx of texts from my high school friends.
My point in mentioning these somber anecdotes is that dealing with death is never easy. It breaks people. I found that Spears was able to illustrate this accurately in Breakaway. I know that some readers had trouble getting into the story for the first fifty pages because it was slow, but I found the beginning relatable and necessary. Jaz was going through his first stage of loss and it made sense for Spears to include this period of grief. I think a lot of people that have lost loved ones would have been able to fathom this denial, self-pity, and fear. Instead of being slow, it just felt right.
I really enjoyed how each character in this story had his own unique set of characteristics that made the reader feel invested in learning more about them. By the end of the story, it was hard not to care about these flawed boys.
However, Raine’s character in the beginning confused me. It was evident she had a crush on Jaz but after really meeting him she changed quite quickly. And this became an “I hate you” standoff between the two. After some harsh bantering and a slap or two, Jaz began to take notice of her beauty, which was strange for me. I mean if a guy slapped me, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel attracted to him much less like him.
Yet, I really loved this slow burn type of romance between Jaz and Raine. With Jaz’s background being the “accident child” and product of two young parents, he had strong morals about sex. It was sort of refreshing to see a guy that cared about abstinence and respected women. Jaz swears like a sailor and throws punches before he thinks but behind that facade he’s a gentleman, sensitive, and kind. I also really liked that he has great character growth throughout the story. After Sylvia’s death he was disguised as an infallible antihero, but by the last scene he was racked with sobs. The vulnerability in him finally cracked through, which was a very pivotal scene. Not to mention, the other one with his heart to heart with his father. That father son scene really hit home for me.
This book begins sad and it ends sad, which was probably the best route to go. If there was a happy ending, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been as satisfied. I noticed that a lot of readers had reservations with this book because of the ending. It’s true, the book just stops. But the fact that it’s open ended, with heavy grief in the air was what made it feel very real and honest to me. There doesn’t always have to be a resolved ending. And a young adult contemporary doesn’t always have to end with the main couple staring off into the sunrise contemplating their undeterminable future. Breakaway ended in a way that sort of symbolized more change to come and left the readers thoughtful.
For me, this was not a love story but rather a story about friendship, life’s ability to inevitably change, and loneliness. This book took me by surprise and there were moments where I felt a few tears slipping through as I read. Surprisingly, this book was relatable in many levels for me. The death. The absent parents. The broken friendships. Breakaway was told in an almost crass way with lots of profanity, but it was still completely moving and beautiful in it’s own way.
And I have to admit the last thing that sold me was the music references. It’s probably known that I’m a huge K-pop fan, but in actuality I listen to diverse genres of music. My favorite being alternative and rock. The music taste Spears has and the bands she decides to feature is just plain fab. Yet, another minor (but kind of big for me) detail was that Spears incorporates “unicorns” at least three time in this book. That alone made me smile. Since you guys know I love me some unicorns.
Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin for giving me the opportunity to read and review this. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.