I can’t stand novels where nothing is resolved and the end is really a “to be continued”. I’ll admit, I missed the reference in the blurb to Broken Hearts… being the first in a series, so I was operating under the assumption that we’d get a neat stand-alone climax, but that still doesn’t excuse the non-ending. The only resolution is confirmation of the plot “twist” that I think everyone guessed by chapter 9. And it’s a real shame, because I enjoyed a lot about this book.
Gemma’s recent breakup has her summering with her dad in the Hamptons. She hasn’t been back since she somewhat-accidentally ruined his, his girlfriend, and her kid’s lives five years ago, and she’s nervous that she might run into their family. My big problem with this plot point is it requires an eleven year old to be both insanely savvy and manipulative, and it requires us, (and someone she knows,) to hold that against a child. I almost wish this was a new adult title, so the age gap would be more like fifteen to twenty instead of eleven to sixteen. I don’t care how badly you messed up at eleven when your parents were divorcing but not actually telling you that so you got upset and wrecked your future-step-mom’s stuff. YOU’RE A KID.
The book wouldn’t really work as a NA, though, because Gemma’s naivety and innocence are her main character traits. When things start to go sideways in a way that would make any other person say, “hmm…”, Gemma blindly continues her plot, confident in her non-existent espionage skills and the general goodness of humanity. You see, through a series of coincidences, Gemma ends up sitting with her dad’s ex’s son, Josh on the train in. He sees a coffee cup with her best friend’s name on it and assumes she’s Sophie. Seeing a chance to make things right, Gemma adopts the nom de plume and sets about re-becoming best friends with him and Hallie.
Despite sometimes being as dense as fruitcake, I found Gemma to be sweet and she seemed to really try to make the charade work, not so she wouldn’t be found out, but from a desire to make things right. She was endearing. Josh, the eventual love interest, was also endearing, but in a bit of a bland, stock-trope kind of way. I liked him best suffering food poisoning and watching the Princess Bride.
There were some loose plot threads, like the fact that her dad was supposed to be back with his business partner and his son, the inevitable second leg to a love triangle, on the night of the climax, but then just...wasn’t. Or the super duper important statue that was broken and sent out for repairs that was never noticed as missing. But I would have forgiven the book those and told you all this was a sweet, not overly deep beach book about redemption and mistaken identity and silly, but ultimately harmless, revenge plots. But I can’t.
The end made me feel so cheated. It’s not that there wasn’t enough resolution, it’s that nothing Gemma did mattered. Someone holds a five year old grudge over her in a way over the top way, especially considering dad’s ex is not worse for the wear.
4/10/14: Fuck that bullshit ending. What a rotten cop-out. I called the twist, but even if I hadn't, I can't imagine anything less satisfying than that end. Seriously I'm actually angry.
Review to come, probably.