Review Blog

Apr 29 2008

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

cover image

HarperCollins, 2008 ISBN 978000722965 9
(Age 14+) Rowan's mum is a vegetable, filling herself with medication to stop the pain of her son's death, while Rowan keeps the house in order, cares for her 6 year old sister and shops and feeds the family. Her father left some time before, berating Rowan that she doesn't see him much anymore. But Rowan cares for them all, not just those she lives with. An extraordinary character, she has an amazing amount of responsibility and is seemingly composed and together.

A boy picks up something from the footpath, gives it to her, telling her that she dropped it. She cannot believe him, but making friends with the older Bee at school, realises that it is a negative and when Bee develops the picture, it is of her brother, Jack. Rowan looks for the boy who gave her the picture, wanting more information. But he cannot enlighten her, and together with Bee, there is a mystery to be solved.

Not the usual journey for a group of friends, Broken Soup is an unexpected read. The three main characters are quite different and the circumstances outlandish, but Valentine brings the threads together mesmerizingly, wrapping them up with smart dialogue and zappy clever settings. The three are always real, their families easily recognized, yet the story is original and encompassing. A wonderful follow up to last year's winner, Finding Violet Park, Broken Soup defies pigeonholing and will please middle to upper secondary students. (don't google the author's name, it is also the name of a sexually explicit porn site!!)
Fran Knight

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