24 April, 2017

{ARC Review} Breaker and the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Breaker and the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Paper Stars, book 2 (companion series)
Publishes May 8, 2017 by Clean Teen Publishing Inc.
e-ARC provided by publisher
New from Lauren Nicolle Taylor, the best-selling author of Nora and Kettle, comes a fresh take on a classic tale.

Breaker Van Winkle is a recently returned Vietnam vet, struggling with PTSD and the difficulties of readjusting to civilian life with his mother. Eighteen-year-old Sunny is a high-achieving Chinese-French immigrant who fled Vietnam during the war. Sunny is usually as cheerful as her name implies, but she has her struggles too. Haunted by violent memories of the bombing that killed her parents, and chafing under the rule of her eccentric grandmother, she finds solace deep in the Catskills, at a place she calls the Ugly Tree.

When Breaker stumbles upon Sunny and the Ugly Tree, things start to change. They are drawn to each other, and feel called to the tree. As they spend more time together and their relationship deepens, they notice that their time at the tree is becoming twisted somehow. Sunny's mind yawns and her ambitions begin to slip away. Breaker feels safe and carefree, his memories finally burying themselves in the distant past. They are being lulled toward a tempting, peaceful sleep--but there is a cost to this magical serenity, and it may be more than either of them can bear...

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My Review

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Last year, when I read Nora & Kettle, I immediately fell in love. The story was beautiful and heartbreaking and such a wonderful retelling, both unique in its execution and refreshing in its setting. I was eagerly hoping for a sequel and I was beyond the moon when I heard about Breaker and the Sun.

This book follows a new story with new characters, so you don't need to read Nora & Kettle to understand it!

I really liked this book. It was a bit hard to get into at first because Taylor immediately introduces the tragedies both main characters faced. I hadn't planned on finding out those so soon but Taylor definitely gives readers more into Break and Sunny. She shows their struggles and how they fight so hard to overcome their pasts, to move on with the challenges that face them now. It was definitely a difficult road for these two, but they managed it and Taylor wrote their story beautifully.

One of the things that stood out to me most about this book was the various types of relationships. While most were familial, there were a few outside that circle, as well. And although you don't read too much about them, I still found them amazing. My favourites, though, were the sibling relationship between Breaker and his little brother, Little Red, and Sunny with her grandparents, Ama and Gong. It isn't easy for either of them--Breaker trying to assimilate to his life again, Sunny dealing with Ama--but they were complex and realistic and the author truly did a great job with them. 

This book tackles two important things: PTSD and prejudice. They're both sensitive topics but Lauren Nicolle Taylor knew what she was doing. If I felt uneasy in the beginning, it was gone as I was reading the story. Taylor is masterful with her prose and I think she did justice depicting both.

With gorgeous writing, an adorable romance, complex characters, and a dash of magic, Breaker and the Sun was an incredible novel, one that I'd highly recommend. Just get the tissues ready!

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