Book Rewind · Review: What’s Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass
What’s Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass was released in 2015 and is today’s Book Rewind. Book Rewind is our TBT meme to give backlist titles the spotlight that new releases usually get. Hope you check out my thoughts below!
What's Broken Between Usby Alexis Bass
Published by HarperCollins
on December 29, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart's brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he's coming home from prison.
Amanda's been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother's recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he's a monster. Still, she loves him. It's her dark secret until she starts getting close to Henry again--whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.
A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she'll let his choice destroy hers.
At NovCon 2015, I had the chance to meet Alexis Bass and get to know her debut, Love and Other Theories, while I eagerly awaited What’s Broken Between Us to publish. It took me a whole year to finally read it, which is a shame because What’s Broken Between Us is a fantastic insight into what it’s like to feel judged for actions you didn’t commit.
I can’t be caught crying, I have to be ready to offer condolences.
This is Amanda’s story. Her brother, Jonathan, has clearly been commanding the spotlight – at school, with her parents, even with her friends. Worse, Jonathan kills his best friend and injures his girlfriend in a drunk driving incident. So now it’s all eyes on the family for his transgressions and Amanda is getting the worst of it.
Both of them, insisting we have our own lives, letting us think we scored independence early. Like responsibility doesn’t have to be learned, honed. Instead, Jonathan and I were alone, free but struggling, with only ourselves and each other to depend on.
What’s Broken Between Us is also a story of how family dynamics contribute to and are affected by Jonathan’s actions. Amanda’s parents have different ideas on how to parent. They’re the type of parents the media would question after a tragedy. Yet they don’t change their parenting style, even after Jonathan is released on probation. He does not seem repentant, even after he was handed a relatively light sentence.
Amanda’s reactions and need to hold everything in is heartbreaking. She feels so much guilt and has taken on the responsibility that should belong to her brother, which she acknowledges to an extent. There is a lot of realism in this story. Amanda’s guilt, Jonathan’s lack of empathy and apology, and the way people around them treat them both. Drunk driving impacts a lot of people, including the family members of the person who committed the crime.
Part of the central plot is the romance between Henry (the brother of the injured girl) and Amanda, which has been interrupted by the tragedy in multiple ways. The two of them were together when her brother decided to drive after drinking, coupled with the family dynamics of putting either of them in the room with each other’s parents. Obviously this becomes very messy and is not perfect.
Not every character in the story is meant to give you the warm fuzzies and not every story is meant to be empathetic. Nonetheless, What’s Broken Between Us is the perfect title for the dynamics that occur between the characters in this story.