Review: Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

Note: This ARC was provided by Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not looking for a happily ever after.
I want a happily even after.

Broken Beautiful Hearts is my first ever Kami Garcia read. There, I said it, and I've hung my head in shame. It's not like I've never heard of her previous releases, whether it be her co-written work with Margaret Stohl or her solo fare. It's a matter of time, or a lack thereof. So many books to read, so little time to devour each one. Sigh. But better late than never, and trust me, had I never taken the time to read this brand-new standalone, I would have smacked myself silly. This was, hands down, one of the more thought-provoking and emotionally stirring young adult (YA) stories I've come across in years. I'm in my early forties, so when I say "years", I'm talking a decade or so.

Seventeen-year-old Peyton Rios is at the cusp of achieving one of her dreams--that of earning a soccer scholarship to the University of North Carolina. It's a dream she wishes her beloved father could be around to share with her. Still, she's got her mom, best friend, and boyfriend to celebrate with. Life is good, but the discovery of her boyfriend's secret shatters her world. All it took was one push which leads to knee injury that could potentially end any dreams of playing soccer professionally. But fighter Reed Michaels would never hurt the girl he loves--the girl he's always protected. Right? Even as she tells those close to them what he did, many refuse to believe her truth.

Moving away to start over is the best option Peyton's got, especially if she hopes to salvage her senior year of high school and find a way to still make a go of her scholarship to UNC. Small-town life is different, but it provides her with some semblance of peace. It's also in that small town where Peyton meets Owen Law. He's sweet and thoughtful and they become friends who clearly have a connection that could go beyond the platonic. But Peyton's fears hold her back, especially given that Owen is also a mixed martial artist...just like Reed is. When her past comes looking for her, Peyton will have to dig in and dig deep in order to move on and fully heal her broken heart.

Ah, how my heart went out to Peyton! This girl was already strong in the beginning, but after what happened to her at the hands of the boy she believed would keep any and all harm from touching her, I wasn't all that surprised that she decided leaving it all behind was the only thing she could do. I know what it's like to be in the position she was in--telling her truth to anyone who was willing to listen, yet receiving disbelieving looks and admonitions for supposedly lying. It's not an easy thing to go through. However, Peyton was made of sturdier stock and while she may have been broken, she was not irreparable. Her story is quite an inspiring one, regardless of the reader's age.

This was, ultimately, Peyton's tale to tell, but she's also surrounded by a fantastic cast of peripheral characters with Owen being the most enduring and endearing one of all. Boys like him were few and far between when I was a teenager, or maybe they were simply far harder to find or recognize, but he made his mark on my conscience, aptly propping Peyton up when needed while also prodding her forward. Then there was the secret he was also keeping from her, and damn, but how it made me teary-eyed. But if there was any two people who I wanted nothing more but a much fought for happily-EVEN-after for, it was Peyton and Owen. Five-plus stars for Broken Beautiful Hearts. ♥

Release Date: 06 February 2018

Date Read: 05 February 2018

Learn more about Kami Garcia.

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