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Broken Soup Hardcover – March 24, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006085071X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060850715
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,099,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fifteen-year-old Rowan is still adjusting to life following her older brother’s death. Her dad is only an occasional presence, and her mother lies in bed all day in a fog of grief, which leaves Rowan to take care of her little sister, Stroma. Rowan’s far too busy to mourn, until one day a strange boy hands her a photo negative he says fell out of her bag. With her new friend Bee (who’s a bit enigmatic herself), Rowan develops the negative and finds a candid photograph of her brother. The mystery Valentine sets in motion is quickly paced and packed with revelations that, while always plausible, sometimes tread too far into “gotcha” territory. The main appeal of the book, however, is her beautifully modulated tone; Valentine is the rare young-adult author who does not overuse dialogue. Insightful details abound, particularly concerning Rowan’s growing relationship with the boy and the resulting reintroduction to her London home, both elements that mirror Valentine’s theme of “developing.” An ideal book for those dealing with the crushing loneliness that follows a death. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus


“This is rich, satisfying storytelling, indeed.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“The language is simple, but its crafting is deft and emotional. Rowan herself is a believable blend of heroic and desperate, and the book is particularly perceptive.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))

“Most enjoyable: a life-affirming, witty, romantic read, about freedom, responsibility and love.” (Sunday Times (London))

“Completely gorgeous. A tremendously sympathetic and engaging central character and huge dollops of intense love and pain. This book has it all.” (

“The story is delicately written. A solid tale of what it takes to grow up and how to ask for help.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Give this poignant, rewarding story to teens who need books dealing with grief who crave romance amid tragedy and hardship.” (School Library Journal)

“[A] warm, graceful first person narrative…readers will stick by Rowan as she builds sustaining new relationships.” (Horn Book Magazine)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on June 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The story in BROKEN SOUP starts immediately from page one.

While Rowan is in line at a shop, a strange boy tries handing her a picture negative. He's insistent that she has dropped it, but Rowan is positive that it's not hers. When he doesn't let up, Rowan takes the negative from him, but once at home, she throws it in the trash. It isn't until an unfamiliar girl approaches Rowan in the lunch room that she gives a second thought to the negative.

The girl, Bee, is a few years older and would be the same age as her brother, Jack, if Jack were still alive. It turns out Bee saw the encounter at the shop and asks Rowan what was on the negative. Rowan retrieves it from the trash, and Bee develops it.

What shows up stuns Rowan. It's a picture of her brother. But this is not a picture that she has ever seen before. How did the unfamiliar boy know that it belonged to her, even when she hadn't known herself that it even existed?

From there, the story evolves into Rowan's friendship with Bee, and her future encounters with the unknown boy, Harper. Harper is an American traveling around Europe. He hadn't planned on staying in town as long as he has, but he's enthralled with Rowan and can't bring himself to leave.

BROKEN SOUP is the heartbreaking story of a girl and her family's attempt to recover from the untimely death of Jack. Jack was the shining star in the family. When he died, so did the family. Rowan's father has left. Her mother is practically comatose with grief. It's up to Rowan to keep herself and her little sister, Stroma, surviving.

Finding the negative begins a series of events that may either heal Rowan's family once and for all, or be the last straw that makes it crumble into permanent destruction. The story is beautifully written and will surely touch the heart of all who read it.

Reviewed by: Jaglvr
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C.K. Kelly Martin on April 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm so happy to see that Broken Soup is now available in America! I much prefer the British cover but there's a warm, original, intelligent novel lurking beneath the current more nondescript cover - a book about loss, friendship, family, memory, a book with three dimensional characters that you'll admire and care deeply about and be sorry to say goodbye to.

The year is young but I'm already betting this will be one of my favourites reads of 2009.
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By Cara Pilbeam on June 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
An inredible and touching book, woven together in an enthralling and intriging mystery- it will have you laughing, and crying too!
For over 12's
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Format: Hardcover
This book had a lot of potential. The idea with the photo is intriguing, and Rowan's whole situation sounded interesting to read about. The plot is what kept me turning the pages - I loved the plot twists and the many ideas - but I had quite a few problems with the rest of Broken Soup.

I think my main problem was that the message got lost in the many aspects of the plot. I don't mean that a book shouldn't have many storylines, but they should support each other to make a whole and create a message to convey to the reader. The different storylines in Broken Soup - Jack's death, Rowan's morhter's depression, her friendship with Bee, her romance with Harper, her role as the responsible one in the family - all seemed to be conveying different messages that had nothing to do with each other. Maybe that would have worked if the book were longer and the storylines were elaborated on more, but like this it just left me confused about what Jenny Valentine wanted to say with this book.

The writing isn't great, but not terrible, either. There was nothing all that noteworthy about it. At parts it sounds like the author wants to sounds poetic and deep, but that didn't fit to the rest of the style and Rowan's voice and seemed contrived.

The characters are okay. Rowan's character is pretty good, and I liked reading how the situation in her family affected her. For some reason, though, I never really connected with her, and for me, if I can't relate to the main character, that takes a lot from a novel. Some of the secondary characters are better: I loved Harper - how he helps Rowan is really cute. Jack is a good character, too; easy to imagine. Bee's characterization is lacking, though. Rowan always tells us she's so special, etc.
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