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Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.Kiss of Broken Glass is my first foray into verse novels, and I have to say, if they're all as compelling and readable as this one I'll be reading a lot more. The idea behind it, cutting as a popularity mechanism, is frightening--and it's even more frightening to read in the author's note that the book was inspired by a similar event in her daughter's life. To explore Kenna's mindset and thought process is sad, and it's so easy to see her flawed logic, but it's also easy to understand why she did it, why she's addicted.
In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.
When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.
The book only takes place over 72 hours, Kenna's whole stay in the psych ward, but it does an excellent job of showing how Kenna thinks and creating a progression into how her time there changes her. She begins as completely against all they talk about--and even ends being against a lot of it--but she also sees the pain of others who are much worse than her and sees how her actions hurt others, especially her younger brother. It's not a complete change, and it's not meant to be, but it's a transition for her.
The verse style works really well for this, too. Instead of focusing on a plot and surroundings, we're immersed in Kenna's mind. The details of her stay are related only so far as they're important to her. The verse is able to set off certain phrases and give a style that mimics thoughts much more closely than a linear narration would, but it never feels like it's been manipulated without reason.
I do wish the whole Jag bit would have been left out. Mostly because it feels a little like a distraction, like a bit of fluff and a romantic interest to fill things in. More built on Kenna's relationship with Skylar would have been better, because Skylar has a real effect on Kenna. The strength of Kiss of Broken Glass is in its exploration of Kenna's mindset, and Jag only detracts from that.
While I have no other verse novels to compare to it, Kiss of Broken Glass was, at least for me, a great read. It's so quick and immersive that you'll find yourself surprised to have devoured the book so quickly.
Madeleine Kuderick writes for anthologies and magazines and has spoken at conferences including the International Reading Association, where she's an advocate for reluctant readers and the teachers who touch their lives. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida and an MBA from Saint Leo University.
Madeleine grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a community with a rich literary tradition, where she was editor in chief of the same high school newspaper that Ernest Hemingway wrote for as a teen. She now lives on Florida's Gulf Coast with her husband and two children.