The storyline is told through the eyes of Caddy, a wealthy private school student who's only complaint is that her life isn't interesting and her school uniform is hideous. She has two parents who care for her, she wants for nothing but yet compares herself to her older sister Tarin who is bipolar and best friend Rosie, having lost her infant sister and her father walking out on his family shortly thereafter.
'They're just horrible things that happened Cads. They don't make me more interesting than you.' But the thing was, they did.
For a girl who's supposedly intelligent, I'm not buying her excuse for a storyline. She was vapid, but she made no effort whatsoever to change her circumstances up until then. She envied her best friend Rosie with a jealously that set the tone for Beautiful Broken Things, and the storyline went downhill from there.
Her goals were to find a boyfriend, lose her virginity and experience a significant life event. Apparently being validated by male attention makes life more interesting. Who knew. So when new girl Suzanne arrives at the local public school where Rosie attends, the claws come out as Caddy is now feeling as though she's the third wheel. I can understand why she felt as though she was on the outer, she and Rosie have been best friends for over ten years and the new girl has impacted on their friendship. But Suzanne was lovely, she made the effort to invite Caddy along with her and Rosie, even when Rosie seemingly seemed to drift away from Caddy in favour of the new and exciting Suzanne.
There's a reason why Suzanne moved away from her parental home and now lives with her aunt. She's the victim of family abuse and neglect and Caddy takes it upon herself to investigate Suzanne online. She uses information she found through a Facebook update as a trigger, perhaps to embarrass the teen or as an act of revenge towards the girl who she felt had replaced her. It was so incredibly cruel and was used as a turning point for Caddy and Suzanne to become friends.
The crux of the stoyyline was the toxic and enabled friendship between the three girls, but especially that between Caddy and Suzanne. I liked Suzanne's character. She was multilayered and complex but needed a positive peer influence in her life. Unfortunately Caddy was not that influence.
Rosie begun to distance herself from Suzanne's erratic behavior, just when she needed a support network more than ever. She wasn't above slut shaming Suzanne for what seemed to be a casual sexual relationship while Caddy seized the opportunity to enable Suzanne, seeing her as little more than a fast track to making her life more interesting. It's made clear that Suzanne is using her bravado to cover up that she's unwell. She's been through an incredible amount of abusive trauma at the hands of her parents and needed professional intervention. But Caddy was toxic, both in her manipulation and enabling of Suzanne to push her further. I can't remember having loathed a character as much as Caddy before.
It was well written, which is in no way a criticism of the author herself, it was the storyline which I found troublesome and painted teen girls as such a fickle, toxic and dangerous beings.
Beautiful Broken Things just annoyed me. I just didn't feel anything for the characters seeing the storyline through the eyes of Caddy. She felt like a self entitled girl who latched onto Suzanne because she had a preconceived notion of what Suzanne was, a girl who chases fun and freedom when in fact, she was a broken soul who'd suffered at the hands of abuse. It painted teen girls as fickle, toxic beings who are basically dysfunctional codependents. Caddy wasn't just an enabler, she became incredible self indulgent and used Suzanne because she was new, exciting and was a fast track to her own significant life event.
While I could relate to Suzanne's upbringing in so many ways, the storyline would have been far more engaging from her point of view. Caddy wasn't boring, but her character just felt incredibly judgemental and cruel. Even being outside of the demographic of the intended audience, it just left me feeling frustrated and lacked a learning curve I was hoping the characters would achieve.