Published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Inc. on February 23, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Remember the places you touched me.
The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.
Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.
It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.
Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage is a young adult mystery novel surrounding the horrifying death of the Cillo sisters after they were found at the bottom of the quarry. No one knows why Mira and Francesca drowned – was it an accident or a suicide? Shortly after their bodies are discovered, Mira’s boyfriend Ben receives a letter from her in the mail. This letter is the first in a series of notes that Mira left in all of the places Ben touched her during their relationship. Ben must hunt down these letters to solve the mystery of the Cillos’s death. What follows is an extremely creepy and captivating novel that I absolutely loved.
I was instantly hooked by Savage’s writing style, and flew through this book in a few short days. The story is extremely fast-paced, and I really enjoyed the treasure hunt aspect of this story with Ben trying to find Mira’s letters as soon as possible. Savage does an excellent job at creating a mysterious and ominous vibe. Even the letters that Ben finds are written so cleverly! I could never predict where the story was going, and that added to my enjoyment of the book.
I will say that I know this story is not for everyone. If you like books with a solid conclusion, Beautiful Broken Girls is not for you. In fact, I read many negative reviews of this book, and nearly every one mentions the open ending. For me, this ending was absolutely perfect for the novel. Not only does it add to the mystery, but it allows the reader to think of all the possible outcomes. What really happened? What didn’t? These loose ends only made me think about this book more and appreciate the rereadability of the story.
Moreover, I do question why it was necessary for Ben to be a survivor of sexual abuse. While this does play into the plot a bit, the story would still hold up without this storyline. Plus, the details surrounding this event are quite iffy. Ben mentions more than once that he never remembers the sexual assault happening, and that his name was just on a list. Thus, while I appreciate the author’s attempt to show the lasting effects of this trauma and how the survivor is treated in society, this storyline felt a bit out of place in the book for me.
Similarly, even though I loved the open-ending, I do wish we got more information about a couple things. Namely, the youth pastor, Mr. Falso, who plays a very important role in Beautiful Broken Girls. He is talked about less and less as the book goes on, and readers never get to find out what he does with the information he collects. I would also love an epilogue with the printing of a certain article, but I will leave out the details so as to not mention spoilers.
My only other critique is that I did find a plot hole in the book. In one scene, Ben mentions that he hasn’t seen his friend since a fight broke out earlier in the book. However, this friend was in another scene after that fight. I did not consider this minor plot hole when rating this novel, as I read an advanced copy and do not know if it was fixed in later editing.
Otherwise, I think Beautiful Broken Girls is a great mystery story that deals with interesting topics I don’t read a lot about in young adult literature. I could relate to the Italian family heritage discussed in the book, and perhaps that is why I felt a strong bond with the characters. This book is unbelievably sad, and my heart especially goes out to Mr. Cillo. I can’t imagine what he is feeling as this book comes to a close.
In the end, I absolutely loved Beautiful Broken Girls, and I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a creepy mystery. Keep in mind that this book deals with serious topics, including sexual abuse, self harm, suicide, and more. However, this story provided me with a lot to think about, and the fast-pace kept me hooked from beginning to end. I am very interested to pick up Kim Savage’s other books, and hope to do so in the future!
BUY THE BOOK
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