Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Title: Kiss of Broken Glass
Author: Madeleine Kuderick
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 9th 2014
Pages: 224
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.
When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I love the premise of Kiss of Broken Glass. I've read a number of books on the issue of self-harm, but Kiss of Broken Glass is unique because of the main character's motivation. Kenna started cutting because of peer pressure, because her group of friends at school does it, which is a really interesting/scary idea and adds a whole new layer of complexity to the issue. That's what made Kiss of Broken Glass such an intriguing and fascinating read. 

I also loved Madeleine Kuderick's writing style. Verse is kind of hit-or-miss for me, but when it's well-done, I love it, and Madeleine Kuderick definitely did it well. Her writing style is beautiful and evocative; Kiss of Broken Glass is the kind of book where you have to stop every once in a while to really take in the beauty of a phrase, or how perfectly it captures the emotions it's trying to express. No matter my feelings about other aspects of the novel, the writing has ensured that I will definitely read whatever Madeleine Kuderick will publish next.

But despite the great premise and beautiful writing, I had some issues with Kiss of Broken Glass. And honestly, most of those issues stem from it being really, really short. With 224 pages in verse, there just isn't enough space to really flesh out the story or the characters. It seemed more like a psychological character study than like a novel, really, because there's not all that much of a story arc. I get that, since it's set over just 72 hours, there obviously isn't going to be some kind of miraculous cure, but I still wanted more from the story than I got.

The secondary characters are especially underdeveloped. I've read a couple of books set at facilities like this one, and I think the setting has a lot of potential for interesting interactions between characters. But sadly, I didn't get enough of that in Kiss of Broken Glass - again, because it's so short. There are a couple of secondary characters, but because they're not fleshed out enough, they seemed more like plot devices than like real people. Especially the hint of romance seemed forced. The characters of Kenna's family members are underdeveloped, too, just because there isn't enough space to create complex secondary characters in such a short novel.

The premise has a lot of potential, and I absolutely loved Madeleine Kuderick's writing. But because the novel is so short, there isn't enough space to fully develop a story arc or to flesh out any of the characters. That made it hard for me to really feel anything while reading the story. I really wish this novel had been twice as long, to fully develop the story and to create complex characters, because I think I could have really loved this one. 


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