When I chose to review Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker, I realized it fits this month's theme, Destination: Vacation, perfectly. For starters, it's exactly the kind of book I like to read while on vacation. It's light, fun, and romantic. But it's more than just a stereotypical beach read. Second, it features a main character--Clementine (Clem, for short)--who is on vacation with her family for the summer on a sailboat. Like I said, perfect for this here pirate reader! Sadly, there were no pirates aboard that ship. But nevertheless, it was just as satisfying a read as I'd hoped.
Here's the description, taken from Goodreads:
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.
There's so much to love about this story. One of the highlights was the characters. Besides Clem herself, I especially loved her family: her parents and ten-year-old sister, Olive. (I also loved the characters' names!) It's not often that a YA main character's family plays a big part of the story. Usually parents are absent, but not here. Not only were Clem's family members very present (they were all stuck on a sailboat together, after all) but they were also involved and invested in Clem's life. They offered support and guidance when she needed it. It was nice to see that family dynamic.
Of course, as Unbreak My Heart is a love story, romance played a big part in the plot. Walker certainly knows how to make a reader swoon! James was the perfect love interest, with his unwavering smile and big heart. I enjoyed reading about the moments when he and Clem were able to sneak away from their families for some alone time. There was smooching, of course, but also real conversations about their lives.
Characters weren't this book's only strengths. I also loved the overall theme of the story: that everyone makes mistakes and nobody's perfect. Clem made bad choices but that doesn't make her a bad person. We're all human. All you can do is admit that you're wrong and apologize, decide to act differently next time, and move forward. You have to learn to forgive yourself. It's a message I think all readers can relate to and appreciate.
And finally, I'd be remiss--this being YA Buccaneers and all--if I didn't mention and praise the setting. Unbreak My Heart is the first contemporary YA story I've read that takes place on a sailboat and it was such a refreshing change of scenery. I could imagine the boat bobbing and the sun setting over the water. It made me want to leave my cell phone and laptop behind, like Clem, hop on a boat with my notebook, and sail away for a little while. I bet, just like Clem, I'd return home with a better perspective of my life and the world. Who's with me?
Tell me: what's your ideal vacation read?