Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie FinnBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 339
Source: NetGalley
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four-half-stars

Hot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don't hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she's someone else. As though the summer wasn't complicated enough already.

Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn's first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

Initially, I wasn’t going to read this book. It just didn’t necessarily sound like a Christina book and the reviews made me even less certain it would be my sort of thing. However, the fact that Katie Finn is Morgan Matson came out and, having loved Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone earlier this year, I couldn’t resist Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend. North fucking west that title takes forever to type. Usually when a book surprises me, it tends to be for the worse, but Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend was a big surprise for the better. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend is a perfect read when you’re in the mood for something fluffy and reminiscent of a CW drama.

Some narrative voices just pop to life for me immediately. Gemma’s does this. On page one, I knew that I would probably love this book, barring some sort of plotberg nonsense, which thankfully did not happen. To be honest, Gemma’s not the most likable character. I don’t feel any real sympathy for any of her plights, because she’s the orchestrator of her own downfall in most every instance. She’s not especially nice, clever, or witty. Gemma is best described by the examination of her handwriting she did as a child, which revealed that she “acted impulsively with little follow-through.” That’s Gemma. We’ll come back to this in a bit.

There’s a lot of humor in Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend. The book opens with one of the most fantastically embarrassing dumpings. Gemma had been with her boyfriend Teddy for about two years and then he dumps her in the Walmart, shortly before they were supposed to go away for the summer to volunteer together. Since Gemma has to pull out of the program, she ends up getting shuffled off to stay with her father, who’s in the Hamptons for the summer. While a summer vacation to stay in a producer’s mansion in the Hamptons (not her dad’s) might sound like a dream, Gemma wants little less, because returning to the scene of the crime is never a good idea.

In the summer of her eleventh year, Gemma did something terrible while she was in the Hamptons. For spoiler reasons, I won’t tell you what that was. You might know that I hate the intentional withholding of information trope most of the time, but Finn doesn’t draw out the suspense on what Gemma did for all that long, thankfully.

The thing to know about Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend is that it’s a bit ridiculous. Everything in this book hinges on Gemma pretending to be her friend Sophie Curtis, in an obviously misguided attempt to reconnect with Hallie, a figure from her past summer. Add to that her feelings for Hallie’s brother, Josh, who values honesty above all else, and you have the makings for CW-level melodrama. Sophie’s plan is idiotic and doomed to failure from the very start. You either accept this and go along for the ride or you probably will not enjoy the book.

What made this work for me, though, is Sophie’s character. While her idea is patently absurd, she also didn’t think it through. Remember? She’s impulsive. Josh saw her holding a cup with the name Sophie on it, assumed her name was Sophie and she decided to run with it, later sort of regretting that choice but whatever it was done so full speed ahead. Plus, Gemma is one of the most skilled people at denial ever. You see this element of her personality over and over again, starting with her reaction to her boyfriend dumping her. As much as Gemma lies to others, I think she’s even better at lying to herself and imagining things will work out in her favor, even if anyone else could have told her (and even did tell her) that was not the case.

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend entertained me from the first to the last page. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next long-titled, drama-filled installment in this series. It’s a departure from what we know of Morgan Matson, but the excellent character-development and writing remains consistent.

Favorite Quote:

When Teddy had first told em about this volunteering program, I had assumed it would mean doing things like planting gardens and maybe teaching children to sing, until my best friend, Sophie Curtis, pointed out that I was actually thinking of The Sound of Music.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i don't want to be judged pretty little liars

6 responses to “Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn”

  1. That’s awesome that you loved this one. I haven’t heard amazing things about it, but I haven’t heart terrible things either. Maybe I will have to look into it.

    It’s always great when a book surprises you for the better, right?
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria LaurieMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I mean, I can see why some people wouldn’t end up loving it, because it is high drama and a bit silly, but I found it completely engaging and hilarious.

  2. Dragana says:

    Haha plotberg. Love the expression! 😀
    CW drama is really not my thing so I don’t have an impression I would like this book. But I am glad you enjoyed it.

    BTW Yay, I just saw you are currently reading Traitor’s Blade. I hope it will be awesome for you as it was for me!
    Dragana recently posted…Book Review: Black Rook by Kelly MeadeMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure if it would be for you, either. It’s not something I would earmark for you.

      I hope I love Traitor’s Blade. I’m only two chapters in, but I like it, though the writing style is slightly odd.

  3. Emily Anne says:

    Like you, I went into the book without the highest of expectations and was surprised by how much I loved it. Sure, it’s a drama full of ridiculousness and humor… but in the best of ways! The sequel, Ice cream, Revenge and Other Things Best Served Cold, is both too far away and an even larger mouthful than Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend. I was so happy to see your review 🙂

    • Christina Franke says:

      Oh yay! It saddens me that so few people really loved this one, though I do understand why it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of cocoa. I thought the characters made it so believable, even though the scenarios are ridiculous and unlikely. Besides, SO MUCH FUN.

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