**Content warning: Details of physical and emotional abuse**
Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard is the follow up to 2015’s Beautiful Broken Things (BBT), although they work as standalone novels. BBT follows very ordinary teenager Caddy, her best friend Rosie, and their whirlwind friendship with new girl Suzanne, and the deterioration of Suzanne’s mental health and her escalating reckless behaviour.
This book picks up two years later, and it follows Suzanne’s bumpy but resolute road to recovery. She has been through things nobody, let alone someone still in their teens, should ever have to go through, and Sara Barnard doesn’t shy away from how difficult it is to try to live a full and healthy life, without resorting to old vices.
Fierce Fragile Hearts is one of the only stories I’ve read that shows the real damage sustained abuse can do, long after the fact, and how it can impair functional living as an adult. What is even more impressive is the depiction of the thorny relationship Suzanne has with the well-intentioned members of her family, who, although they support her, can misunderstand or even dismiss her experiences and needs.
The bright shining star of this series of novels is the friendship between Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne. As Caddy and Rosie go to university, their friendship between the three of them enters new waters as they deal with new people, new love interests, loneliness and misguided acts of support, and all of it felt so incredibly real, and true to each individual.
Candy, Digital Marketing Officer at Mind