Sunday, May 13, 2012

UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker Review + Interview!

Unbreak My Heart
Melissa Walker

Rating: A-
Release Date: 05/22/12
Synopsis from
Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

My thoughts on the book:
Unbreak My Heart is a bildungsroman (coming of age story... sorry I used to be an English major, haha) that teaches about love and forgiveness. The characters are well-developed, and the plot will draw the reader in. Furthermore, Unbreak My Heart brings up an important social issue, gender double-standards in contemporary society. All of that combined with the summer and vacation setting make this book a perfect summer read. 

I really enjoyed the way Walker told this story. She told it from alternating points in time. One chapter would be in the present, and the next chapter would be in the past/a flashback of what happened with Clementine, Ethan, and the fall out between Clem and her friends. It was shocking, yet accurate, to see the double-standard at play. I can't believe that no one seemed to blame Ethan at all. I really wasn't his biggest fan. I did love James, though. And Olive, Clem's younger sister, was the highlight of the book for me. She was fantastic!

I also didn't understand why Amanda was so important to Clem. I mean yea, if my best friend messed around with my boyfriend, I'd probably disown her, but I'd disown him, too. I would treat them both the same. However, everyone makes mistakes. Clem grows a lot throughout the novel, and I think she learned some valuable lessons because of what she did and what happened to her. I doubt she'd be that selfish again. 

Walker did a terrific job of showing instead of telling, and I was able to pretty much feel what Clem felt. I felt bad for her, but I was angry at her for being such a brat, too. At some points, her depression was a bit much to take, but she was authentically a teenager. Her emotions were more turbulent than the water they were sailing on at points, but that's typical for someone her age. I was drawn into the story immediately and couldn't put the book down until I was finished. It's a quick and short read, only 240 pages, and the pacing is perfect. Nothing is rushed or dragged out. 

I didn't feel like we reached a resolution between Clem, Amanda, and Ethan at the end of the story. It was a happy ending, and I know that the story is supposed to be about Clem's journey to self-forgiveness and personal growth. However, I would have liked to see the after and how things went for her a few months down the road as well. Just a small snippet to keep me from being so curious.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. As I said, it's the perfect summer read. I'd recommend this story to anyone. You should take it on vacation with you and read it while you're relaxing on the beach. That's what I did! 

Want to pre-order Unbreak My Heart?

Interview with Melissa Walker:
PS I'm so excited because I just found out that Melissa Walker is a TAR HEELS FAN! I'm a Tar Heel! YAY GO HEELS! Ahem... Okay, on to the interview...

Question: The gender double-standard is something that is still extremely prevalent in contemporary society. Do you have hopes that bringing it to people’s attention will cause them to think twice before holding females to higher standards than males?

Answer: Anytime you have to pause and think about something like a double standard, that's a good thing. Contemplation and awareness lead to change, I think. So yes.

Q: I like how you told the story, alternating between the present and the past. How did you come up with that idea?

A: Thanks! I knew I wanted to tell two stories at once, so this seemed like the way to do it. It was challenging to write past and present and weave them together, but my editor Caroline Abbey was a HUGE help in that process. 

Q: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

A: I have a letter in the DEAR TEEN ME anthology, coming from Zest in October. And I'm working on a new book for 2013, but I'm keeping the details mum for now...

Q: This question is for all of the writers out there. Your characters are very well-developed, and you make it easy for the reader to get to know them. Was character-development difficult to accomplish when you first started writing, or has that always been something that comes naturally to you as a writer?

A: Thanks! I really love getting into people's minds and motivations. I've always been an observer, as most writers are, and I like thinking about why and how people do what they do. I can tell when I'm writing a flat character, and it's a terrible feeling. So if that happens, I usually take a step back and use a couple of days to just think about that character and who they are. Then when I jump back in, he/she can be more fully realized.

Q: Going along with the previous question, do you ever create character that you just don’t like (such as when you create a “bad guy” type character)? Or do you love them all, even the ones who aren’t so nice?

A: I love them all, honestly. I think that's because since I create them, I understand them, even when they're "bad."

Q: The way you tell stories is more showing than telling (which is good, obviously). The reader is able to feel what Clementine is feeling. Showing instead of telling is a difficult thing for many writers to accomplish. Is there a trick to it, or is it something you just learn as you go along?

A: It's definitely something you learn through a LOT of writing practice, or at least it was for me. I also have very rough drafts that are marked with a lot of "SDT!" (Show don't tell). So I have to step back and correct myself regularly. It's all a part of the process.

Q: Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you outline or write freely?

A: I do a chapter by chapter outline, but it's very sparse--no details. Then I write freely WITHIN that outline, and sometimes characters lead me in new directions, so I'm pretty flexible as I write.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: Oh, there are so many! It's hard to choose! A few that come right to mind: Beth Kephart, Sarah Dessen, Gayle Forman.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A: Read, read, read. As much as you can. Also, go out and live life, so you have experiences to work into your writing. And keep practicing--finish an entire draft, whether it's a short story or a 600 page novel. Getting from the beginning to the end? That's something to celebrate!

Amber: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!

Melissa: Thank YOU!

Melissa Walker Links:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter


  1. Lovely review and it was great to be able to read the interview as well, I need this even though it's no longer summer here! ;)

    1. Thank you! It is a fantastic book. You could use it to remind you of summer! Thanks for stopping by! :D


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