Broken Soup

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There's mystery too.


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Why has a stranger given Rowan a photographic negative? He said she dropped it; she knows she didn't. Why are two new people in Rowan's life, Harper a travelling American teenager and Bee a new arrival in what would have been Jack's year at school , so friendly? Valentine has the essential storyteller's gift of making you want to read on - and to know more even after the book is finished. The writing moves with an athletic spring. When you think there's going to be one startling simile too many, she swerves away.

Psychobabble looms, but is avoided. And just when it seems that we are heading for a disappointingly flabby ending, there's a new twist. On no account should you skip ahead.


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Much of the success of Broken Soup comes from Valentine's skilful dialogue - ringing with the cadences of now without descending into patois that would date the book instantly. A brisk exchange can move the plot along and tell us all we need to know about everyone's state of mind.

Valentine captures the vocal tics of each character, and makes good use of the accidental insight of the very young without being twee.

The central metaphor of the book's title comes from the mouth of the six-year-old. Though it's set in a similar time and place to Finding Violet Park, some things are better in Broken Soup. Routine drug use, which in that book seemed at times to be inserted to shock or show off, features here, but isn't flaunted. It simply adds to the realism. And once again the designers have served Valentine well.

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Sonny is given birth to after Jack dies and therefore can be said to have a part of Jack in him. This part of Jack later helps the ultimate recovery of Jane Clark. The love of Bee and Jack was subtle and a secret kept from their family and friends, thus the revelation about Sonny is used to bring those close to Jack together. Love is powerful and unexplainable. How it brought two families together is an unforgettable part of the story, in which it creates the very essence of the themes love and family.

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The importance of a friendship can only be portrayed by the one between Harper and Rowan. Harper has ample time and Rowan has many problems so Harper is always there for Rowan, for the better and especially the worst. If Rowan ever needed to shed tears, Harper had his shoulder for her to lean on. As expected, Harper goes to the Clark residence to collect her belongings. Wondering why he took so long, Rowan is particularly moved when she hears Harper had cleaned the house of any blood.

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Harper was a boy who met Rowan by pure luck. The more they learned about each other the stronger the bond between them. Harper was seldom self centered. Upon hearing about Jack death, Harper does exactly what Rowan wants him to do. Moments like this help to demonstrate the significant value of the theme friendship. Ultimately, the themes loss, grief, friendship, family and love are not only incredibly insightful issues but also relating to everyday problems.

Broken Soup

Jenny Valentine is without a doubt an emotionally deep writer. Readers have the opportunity to experience the themes and how they affect Rowan and those close to her. Valentine uses appropriate examples to profoundly exhibit all themes in Broken Soup. Naturally, the themes loss, grief, friendship, family and love all have their own significant meaning in the story.

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