Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ARC Review: When Reason Breaks

Title: When Reason Breaks
Author: Cindy L. Rodriguez
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source: eARC from Bloomsbury
Rating: ☆☆☆
13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.


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My Review

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez is an ambitious YA novel with a very intriguing concept. As an English teacher and lover of literature, I was immediately drawn to this book at the mention of Emily Dickinson. Then I made the E.D. connection. Two girls - Emily Delgado and Elizabeth Davis - share their initials with Emily Dickinson. Cool, right? Of course it's cool!

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love this book. I loved the concept, but I felt like there was too much going on for it to be a complete, graspable book. In a way, it makes sense for Rodriguez to do that because Emily Dickinson had quite an interesting and complicated life, but it makes for a very complicated and intricate book. There was one thing that happened in this book that created grief and aggravation for me; Rodriguez spoils her audience at the beginning of the book! She doesn't completely spoil it, but for readers like me, who read in between the lines, the one detail that is given away at the beginning of the book makes it so much easier to figure out what really happens.

I was expecting a little more character development from Rodriguez. In the beginning of the book, I confused Emily and Elizabeth a lot. Differentiating the two becomes easier as the book moves along, but it is annoying to confuse characters. I liked how Emily Delgado was characterized, but boy... I had problems with Elizabeth Davis. From the synopsis, I was expecting someone a little more rough around the edges, but she didn't really appear that way to me. I kind of thought of her anger as fluff instead of real anger. I really thought there would be more to her than what Rodriguez includes.

That being said, there are many great things about this novel, and I applaud Rodriguez for its creation. First of all, there are so many diverse characters in this book. Rodriguez includes Latino characters and culture in this book, which is something I've yet to come across in the YA books I've read. Secondly, I love the integration of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Emily Dickinson is an important piece of American history, and seeing how lines from her poems relate to the plot is awe-inspiring. I can only hope that teens will be more likely to go to the library and read Dickinson's poems after reading this book.

Overall, When Reason Breaks is an enjoyable read, especially if you are a fan of Emily Dickinson or retellings. There are some minor flaws, but there are also some really great moments that overshadow most of the flaws. I hope that readers will take something away from those great moments.

Cindy L. Rodriguez is a former newspaper reporter turned public school teacher. She now teaches as a reading specialist at a Connecticut middle school but previously worked for the Hartford Courant and the Boston Globe. She and her young daughter live in Connecticut. When Reason Breaks is her debut novel. For more author information, click here.


  1. Seems like a very interesting book - Great review! But to be honest I've never read anything by Emily Dickinson...

    1. It's definitely interesting, and a pretty good read. And you actually don't have to have ever read anything by Emily Dickinson to read this book because the related poems are embedded in the book. It's definitely unique.

  2. I have only seen one other review from this book and that blogger loved it. It seems like at times it got a smidge confusing because of everything that happened at once. But aside from that it seems like a touching book, but not one that sinks in too deep.

    1. I haven't seen very many reviews of it. I'll have to look for some. It's a pretty good book, but it just wasn't the greatest.


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