Breakaway – Kat Spears – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 15 September 2015
From Kat Spears, author of Sway, comes a new novel that asks the question: when a group of four best friends begin to drift apart, what will it take to bring them back together?
When Jason Marshall’s younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.
A harsh and expressive book about friendship. Both confronting and endearing.
Breakaway is about four boys who are friends, but as their final year of high school progresses they realise they don’t really know why they are close or what they have in common. Let’s start with Jason, or Jaz as he is know by his friends. He is our main character and he narrates the novel. At the start he is mourning the death of his sister. Jaz reads like a typical 17-year-old boy. He is slightly dislikable, yet honest, harsh and sometimes apologetic for the way he comes across. His life is falling apart, but he copes with it pretty well and is smart, making wise choices (sometimes) and thinking about the consequences of his decisions (though this sometimes comes after the fact).
I felt like Jason didn’t have any goals, nothing he was working towards. He is just suffering through each day. As his circle of friends break apart, he finds a reprieve in Raine. A girl he once dismissed as rich and shallow, but he now realises he can be honest with her and connect with her in a way he no longer can with his friends. Mario, Chick and Jordie complete the friendship group in question. Mario is perhaps Jaz’s closes friend, but is now hanging with a different crowd and taking drugs Jaz wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Jordie has always struggled to align his friendship with the boys to the life his wealthy family want him to have. His new girlfriend (also rich and a member of the country club) makes the disparities between his two lives even more apparent. And then there is Chick. Overlooked and unassuming. Which is exactly how his friends see him. They look out for him, but can’t quite connect with him.
I cannot say I loved this book, it made me too sad to really love it and didn’t give me enough hope to redeem it. The ending hit me out of nowhere and just tops off what is overall a really tragic book. I felt that I must not have the complete book, in fact I even contacted the publishers to confirm it was the full text. It was. So I was left hanging, feeling like I didn’t really know what the point of the book was. Maybe it was to look out for your friends before it’s too late, or don’t put a girl above your friends. But it’s only as I am writing this review that I realise what the implications of the title and how much the friendship was the focus of the book. Yes, this friendship and progression is indicated in the summary, but I still didn’t pick up that it was the main focus. I still don’t know what the book’s main message was, but I can appreciate the book as it was.
Breakaway was, as with Sway, well written. Threads are interwoven seamlessly, such as the boys’ friendship, Jaz’s growing relationship with Raine, the grief of Jaz and his mother and the undercurrents of Jaz’s absent father. I liked how I was reading and understood the things that go unsaid and are only confirmed much later. I’m not entirely sure how much I liked this book, but perhaps it is one to read again and mull over the fine nuances.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Friendship. Family. Grief. Teenagers. Coming of age. Romance.
Age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references. Violence. Frequent coarse language, f***, s*** and variations of. Drug and alcohol use and references. Mature themes surrounding death and suicide.
Published: 12 September 2015
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 304 pages.