BOOK REVIEWS

The Science of Breakable Things Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-03-21 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:1524715662
LANGUAGE:English

"A debut that hits you at the emotional core. Natalie is struggling to cope with life with not-mom (her mother who won’t get out of bed) and her therapist dad. As in many books that deal with parents who are struggling, Natalie bears the burden of her mother’s depression, hides it from everyone, even her best friend, bottles up her feelings, feels responsible for her mother’s condition, and also wants to find a way to bring Mom back to the family. Can Mr. Neely’s year-long Wonder notebook steer Natalie in the right direction? Will the egg drop contest provide the money for Natalie to take her mom to see the miracle orchids and lead to the miracle Natalie is hoping for?

This story includes struggles with a parent’s mental illness, but also typical and relatable middle school friendships, a quirky science teacher, and lots of fun plant/science facts!
" said.

"THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS has been one of my most-anticipated 2018 reads since I saw the deal announcement go live last year. It combines so many of the things I love - difficult family situations, plucky MG heroines solving problems the best they know how, friendships, and a comparison (in said deal announcement) to one of my all-time favorite MGs, THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH. I absolutely devoured Keller's story last week, even while in the middle of packing for a big trip! Natalie is the kind of character you just want to hug, the story threads are so deftly woven together, and the ending is the perfect mixture of sweet and sad. Also, the illustrations are darling, even in the ARC—I can't wait to see what they're like in the final! If you like contemporary middle grade, be sure to check out THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS when it drops next year!" said.

"“I’ve been wondering about breakable things, and how to protect them.” So says Natalie, whose mom has withdrawn from the world and is fighting depression.

Dad is a therapist, but doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation (other than to send Natalie to another therapist so there isn’t a conflict of interest) which leaves Natalie to sort things through on her own.

She uses science.

See, Mom was a botanist and told of the mysterious Blue Orchid, a flower that bloomed after toxic aluminum and cobalt spilled from a power plant and killed all other flowers. What made this plant survive? Can whatever it was bring her mom back?

In school, a zealous science teacher has the class keep a lab journal, so it’s here where Natalie documents her questions and notes her observations. (Looking into her eyes was like peering into a well and not being able to see the bottom. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to jump on the couch and wave my arms in the air and scream.)

A fantastic debut, written with care, compassion and insight on a middle schooler, keep the Kleenex handy for the latter part of the book.
" said.

"THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS is a charming and delightful, emotional, meaningful, and thoroughly engaging read. It is full of hope and heartache and humor, clever footnotes, adorable illustrations, and a plethora of broken eggs.

Ever since Natalie’s mom all but disappeared from her life, Natalie’s been looking for answers and for a way to fix things so that the mom she knew will return and replace the not-there version who spends most of her days in bed.

Her new, overly enthusiastic science teacher’s suggestion that she participate in the local egg drop competition might not be such a bad one. It will give her just the opportunity she needs to help - that is, if she can win.

Going it alone she doesn’t stand a chance, but with her best friend Twig and new friend Dari on her team, winning is a real possibility - even with drop ideas that contain glitter, marshmallows, and chocolate.

Tae Keller created a sympathetic, relatable, likable, funny, flawed, and real character in Natalie. She put her character in a situation that forced her to grow up, to learn things she might not have wanted to learn, to adapt, to become more aware, more thoughtful, more understanding. But she didn’t make her go it alone.

The author did an incredible job of keeping her story at just the right amounts of serious and fun. It is moving and heart-rending. But with a hashtag happy teacher, a friend who doesn’t know the meaning of a whisper, and a dad whose idea of fun is running errands, it is equally as lighthearted and hilarious as it is affecting.

Aimed at a middle grade audience, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS can be just as easily enjoyed by a young adult readership, as well as readers of most ages. It incorporates science in a way that is amusing and educational. It tackles emotionally tough issues. It introduces a bit of cultural diversity. It offers food for thought. It has some sweet and wonderful characters. And it is witty and smart and an amazingly great read.
" said.

"With Mr. Neely as her very enthusiastic science teacher, Natalie can’t get out of asking a scientific question and exploring it using the scientific method. But Natalie would much rather get answers about her family, about why her mother won’t leave her bedroom anymore and how her father can stop being in therapist mode all the time. So when Mr. Neely encourages Natalie to compete in an egg drop competition, she knows that if they can win, things will change. Natalie’s best friend Twig is on their team, offering creative solutions for the egg drop and they also become friends with the new kid, Dari. As the three become closer, Natalie continues to try to figure out how to help her mother, putting together a plan for the prize money that they hope to win that will inspire her mother and get her back to normal. But life doesn’t always go to plan and neither do science experiments as Natalie soon discovers.

Keller writes with a lovely mix of humor and science throughout this novel. She looks directly at the subject of a parent’s chronic depression and shows the impact of that on a child and a family. Natalie steadily learns to find her voice in the novel and express her own pain about the situation. Science is used throughout the novel as a bridge between people, a way forward and a solution to problems.

Natalie as a character is beautifully conflicted. While she yearns to have her mother back she is also very angry about the situation, something that she has trouble expressing. Even with the friends she has, she worries about Dari joining her and Twig at various times particularly as Twig and Dari seem to have a special connection with one another. None of this is overly dramatized, but feels natural and emerges as convincing times of emotional stress.

Smartly written and filled with glowing characters living complicated lives, this middle grade novel unbreakable. Appropriate for ages 9-13.
" said.

"This was cute and I was really glad to read a science-themed book for young readers. Full disclosure: I am 29 years old and not really a 'science person', but this book explored cool things like botany and the scientific method (and I was actually into it)!

Some things I liked:
-Natalie's family life is well-drawn. Her father is half-Korean, but uncomfortable with his heritage (though this could have been explored further because I had more questions about it). Her mother is a scientist, but she has recently become 'sick'. We eventually find out the mother has depression and that's why she doesn't leave her room at all. I'm glad to see diverse families that have real issues, not just 'quirky' ones — though yes I like quirky too!
-Natalie's friend Twig is a fun character! She's a chatterbox, always going a mile a minute, and seems to be really there for Natalie to lean on.
-The plot moved along nicely, with the egg drop competition being the main focus, but a nice switch towards the end with Natalie trying to acquire a special flower because she thinks it will help her mom.

But I had some things I didn't like:
-the smart boy Dari is that kid in group projects who does ALL the work and no one offers to help. Natalie and her friend Twig are often distracted, but perfectly capable of helping, and they're content to just take credit for his work.
-there's this throwaway bit near the end of the book where a "homeless man… drinking out of a paper-bagged bottle" creeps out the three friends while they're riding a bus late at night. It just seemed to be an obvious stereotype to try and add drama to a scene, but I'm not a fan of this portrayal. Homeless people and alcoholics might be scary sometimes, but they deserve compassion and nuance.
-Natalie's parents are completely unable to talk to her. And her dad is a therapist! Yet he mostly just says "give your mother some space." Also no one seems to recognize that Natalie is having struggles with school: she's not doing her homework and she's unable to concentrate in class. It feels like Natalie's not going to get any help since she doesn't have any trusted adults to talk to, though by the end, she has started to open up to her therapist Doris.

" said.

"

«As it turns out, you can’t always protect breakable things.»

What is depression, and how can you explain to your child that her mother is suffering from an illness that even adults sometimes don’t understand? Natalie is struggling to understand. What happened to her mother that triggered these dark days? Why doesn’t she try better for her, Natalie, to push the darkness away?

Tae Keller’s witty and emotional writing, mixed with a heavy subject, resulted in a perfect book for any ages.

Written in journal entries, «The Science of Breakable Things» provides a different perspective on a widely-spoken subject - depression and what does it mean to the people around.

Natalie is determined to save her mom and start working on the new assignment. However, the scientific question does not come easy, as all she wants to find out is how to make her mother enjoy life again.

It was impossible to stay indifferent to Natalie’s struggles, her lively character and humorous descriptions. If you are looking for a book that will make you smile and cry, sometimes even at the same time, this is the book for you!

It is an example of what middle grade should be - humour, adventure and difficult subjects presented in a simpler way, captivating and utterly emotional!
" said.

" Such a lovely book about love and life and growing up. It made me well up several times. " said.

April 2018 New Book:

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