Broken Soup

Broken Soup

by Jenny Valentine

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Overview

Positive.

Negative.

It's how you look at it. . . .

Someone shoves a photo negative into Rowan's hands. She is distracted but, frankly, she has larger problems to worry about. Her brother is dead. Her father has left. Her mother won't get out of bed. She has to take care of her younger sister. And keep it all together . . .

But Rowan is curious about the mysterious boy and the negative. Who is he? Why did he give it to her? The mystery only deepens when the photo is developed and the inconceivable appears.

Everything is about to change for Rowan. . . . Finally, something positive is in her life.

Award-winning author Jenny Valentine delivers a powerful and life-affirming story of grief, friendship, and healing that will resonate long after the last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061923098
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/24/2009
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 904,992
File size: 243 KB
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Jenny Valentine worked in a food shop for fifteen years, where she met many extraordinary people and sold more organic bread than there are words in her first book. She studied English literature at Goldsmith's College, which almost made her stop reading but not quite. Her debut novel, Me, the Missing, and the Dead, won the prestigious Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the UK under the title Finding Violet Park. Jenny is married to a singer/songwriter and has two children. She lives in Hay on Wye, England.

Read an Excerpt

Broken Soup SNY

Chapter One

It wasn't mine.

I didn't drop it but the boy in the line said I did.

It was a negative of a photograph, one on its own, all scratched and beaten up. I couldn't even see what it was a negative of because his finger and thumb were blotting out most of it. He was holding it out to me like nothing else was going to happen until I took it, like he had nothing else to do but wait.

I didn't want to take it. I said that. I said I didn't own a camera even, but the boy just stood there with this "I know I'm right" look on his face.

He had a good face. Friendly eyes, wide mouth, all that. One of his top teeth was chipped; there was a bit missing. Still, a good face doesn't equal a good person. If you catch yourself thinking that, you need to stop.

All my friends were cracking up behind me. The girl at the counter was trying to give me my change and everybody in the line was just staring. I couldn't think why he was doing this to me. I wondered if embarrassing strangers was one of the ways he got through his day. Maybe he walked around with a pile of random stuff in his pockets—not just negatives but thimbles and condoms and glasses and handcuffs. I might be getting off lightly.

I didn't know what else to do, so I said thank you, who knows for what, and I went red like always, and I made a face at my friends like I was in on the joke. Then I shoved the negative in my bag with the oranges, milk, and eggs, and he smiled.

All the way home I got "What is it, Rowan?" and "Let's see" and "Nice smile"—a flock of seagulls in school uniform, shrieking and pointingand jumping around me. And I did my usual thing of taking something that's just happened apart in my head until it's in little pieces all over the place and I can't fit it back together again. I wanted to know why he'd picked me out of everyone in the shop, and whether I should be glad about that or not. I thought about what he said ("You dropped this... no really... I'm sure") and what I did (act like a rabbit in headlights, argue, give in). I was laughing about it on the outside, feeling like an idiot on the quiet. I had no idea something important might have happened.

My name is Rowan Clark and I'm not the same person as I was in that shop, not anymore. The rowan is a tree that's meant to protect you from bad things. People made crosses out of it to keep away witches in the days before they knew any better. Maybe my mum and dad named me it on purpose, maybe not, but it didn't do much good. Bad things and my family acted like magnets back then, coming together whatever was in the way.

When I got home with the shopping, I forgot about the negative because there was too much to do. Mum was asleep on the sofa while Stroma watched The Fairly OddParents with the sound off. Stroma's my little sister. She was named after an island off Scotland where nobody lives anymore. There used to be people there until 1961 and one of them was someone way back in my dad's family. Then there was just one man in a lighthouse until they made the lighthouse work without the man and he left too. That's what Stroma and her namesake have in common, getting gradually abandoned.

I made scrambled eggs on toast with cut-up oranges and glasses of milk. While we were eating, I asked Stroma how her day was, and she said it was great because she got Star of the Week for writing five sentences with periods and everything. Being Star of the Week means you get a badge made from cardboard and a cushion to sit on at story time, which is a big deal, apparently, when you're nearly six.

I asked her what her five sentences were, and she said they were about what she did on the weekend. I said, "What did we do?" and she reeled them off, counting them on her fingers.

"I went to the zoo. With my mum and dad. We saw tigers. I had popcorn. It was fun."

Five lies, but I let it slide, and after a minute she met my eye and started talking about something else I couldn't quite make out because her mouth was full of orange. Stroma and I had whole conversations with our mouths full. It was one of the benefits of parentless meals. That and eating with your fingers and having your dessert first if you felt like it.

After supper she did a drawing of a torture chamber while I washed up. "It's us going swimming," she said, pointing at the rivers of blood and the people hanging from walls.

I said, "We can go on Saturday if you want," which she did and I already knew it.

She asked me to draw a unicorn, and even though it looked more like a rhinoceros and should have gone in the garbage, she colored it pink out of loyalty and called it Sparkle.

When she was all clean and in her pajamas, we'd read a book, and when she was feeling sleepy, Stroma asked for Mum. Just like a kid from Victorian times who gets to see a parent in order to bid them good night, but the rest of the time has to make do with the staff. I said Mum would take ten minutes because I'd have to wake her up first. I put this lullaby tape on that Stroma listened to every night since forever and I knew she'd probably be asleep before anyone made it up there.

Broken Soup SNY. Copyright © by Jenny Valentine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Broken Soup 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
BROKEN SOUP is the heartbreaking story of a girl and her family's attempt to recover from the untimely death of Jack. Jack was the shining star in the family. When he died, so did the family. Rowan's father has left. Her mother is practically comatose with grief. It's up to Rowan to keep herself and her little sister, Stroma, surviving.  The story evolves into Rowan's friendship with Bee, and her future encounters with the unknown boy, Harper. Harper is an American traveling around Europe. He hadn't planned on staying in town as long as he has, but he's enthralled with Rowan and can't bring himself to leave. While Rowan is in line at a shop, a strange boy tries handing her a picture negative. He's insistent that she has dropped it, but Rowan is positive that it's not hers. When he doesn't let up, Rowan takes the negative from him, but once at home, she throws it in the trash. It isn't until an unfamiliar girl approaches Rowan in the lunch room that she gives a second thought to the negative. Finding the negative begins a series of events that may either heal Rowan's family once and for all, or be the last straw that makes it crumble into permanent destruction. The story is beautifully written and will surely touch the heart of all who read it.        
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The story in BROKEN SOUP starts immediately from page one. While Rowan is in line at a shop, a strange boy tries handing her a picture negative. He's insistent that she has dropped it, but Rowan is positive that it's not hers. When he doesn't let up, Rowan takes the negative from him, but once at home, she throws it in the trash. It isn't until an unfamiliar girl approaches Rowan in the lunch room that she gives a second thought to the negative. The girl, Bee, is a few years older and would be the same age as her brother, Jack, if Jack were still alive. It turns out Bee saw the encounter at the shop and asks Rowan what was on the negative. Rowan retrieves it from the trash, and Bee develops it. What shows up stuns Rowan. It's a picture of her brother. But this is not a picture that she has ever seen before. How did the unfamiliar boy know that it belonged to her, even when she hadn't known herself that it even existed? From there, the story evolves into Rowan's friendship with Bee, and her future encounters with the unknown boy, Harper. Harper is an American traveling around Europe. He hadn't planned on staying in town as long as he has, but he's enthralled with Rowan and can't bring himself to leave. BROKEN SOUP is the heartbreaking story of a girl and her family's attempt to recover from the untimely death of Jack. Jack was the shining star in the family. When he died, so did the family. Rowan's father has left. Her mother is practically comatose with grief. It's up to Rowan to keep herself and her little sister, Stroma, surviving. Finding the negative begins a series of events that may either heal Rowan's family once and for all, or be the last straw that makes it crumble into permanent destruction. The story is beautifully written and will surely touch the heart of all who read it.
weener on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
15-year old Rowan's world is still shaken from the death of her outgoing, lovable older brother Jack. But she's not reeling. She doesn't have time for that. Jack's death has left a hole in her family that has plunged her mother into a deep depression, broken up her parents' marriage, and left her to singlehandedly run the household and care for her 6-year old sister, Stroma. Then something weird happens at the grocery store, and her life starts to change. A guy she's never seen before tells her that she dropped something and hands her a photo negative. It's definitely not hers. She doesn't even have a camera. So she throws it away. But the curiosity of a schoolmate, Bee, who witnessed the exchange compels her to fish it out of the trash and develop the photo. It's really not hers. But it's of her dead brother. Where did it come from? And who was that guy? This is one of the most mature and realistic "journey of healing" type books I've read. It wasn't gimmicky at ALL, and this book had the potential to be extremely gimmicky. It wasn't wrapped up too nice and neat at the end. The 15-year old narrator matures visibly throughout the course of the book. I especially liked the way the romance was handled. Rowan didn't bore everyone by spending page after page pining after her crush when she clearly has other things on her mind, and yet it managed to feel natural, not cheap or tacked on. It was a minor part of the book, but added a nice element. I would definitely recommend this book to teens looking for a realistic read.
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Broken Soup, three freaky things happened to upset fifteen-year-old Rowan¿s life. The first thing was that her older brother died from a freak swimming accident in France. As a result, her mother withdraw into herself and her father withdrew from her daily life, moving out of the house, leaving Rowan to care for her mother and her younger sister, Stroma. The second thing was an unknown boy standing behind her at the local coffee shop handing her a photo negative which he said dropped out of her bag. She knew she didn¿t drop it.The third occurrence was Bee, a high school senior she never knew or socialized with, coming up to her at lunch and asking about the negative. She was also in line at the coffee shop. This confluence of events and their later unraveling, leads to totally unimagined and unforeseen results. You see, the negative was a photo of her brother, looking extremely happy. The boy, Harper, who gave Rowan the negative, is a New Yorker traveling around Europe (Rowan lives in London) whose current address is an ambulance with all the creature comforts of home. And Bee, well, I¿ll let you find out who Bee is.Jenny Valentine has written an intriguing second novel. The main characters are interesting and, in some cases quirky: from Stroma, the precocious six-year-old, to Harper, living in an ambulance, to Carl, Bee¿s father who smokes marijuana and is more like a father than Rowan¿s own father. There is some intrigue as Rowan seeks more information about the photo and about her brother. There is love on many levels: boys and girls, mothers and fathers, parents and children. And finally, there is the realization that not all burdens should fall on the shoulders of a fifteen-year-old. Broken Soup is a quick but fulfilling read.
lisagibson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rowan is holding the family together, after the death of her brother Jack. Problem is, it's been several years since Jack's passing. Her mother is beyond help at this point and doesn't even realize Rowan and her sister, Stroma are there half the time. While in the store on day, a boy gives Rowan a photo negative. It's not hers and the small piece of film is the first piece of a mystery that leads everyone to some amazing, life altering truths. What will happen with the boy, Harper who gave Rowan the negative too? As everyone holds on to their pieces of Jack, yet tries to get on with life, while not completely losing him. I loved this book. Rowan was a strong character with a terrific voice. I also loved the fact that it's set in London so I get little pieces of the British slang. I guess I should say, "I love this book to bits!"
4sarad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First I should say that I did like the characters and cared about them. That being said, I didn't like much else. The plot varied between being unbelievable (coincidences, etc.) to being way too predictable. Also, the formatting of the dialogue was annoying. I guess I've just read so many books like this that this one doesn't stand out in any way for me, other than the fact they're in London rather than in the US.
bluejulie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of the more touching YA books I've read. No wonder that it received awards and great reviews.Occasionally, I felt that the style of writing was a bit too distracting, pulling one's attention away from the story to the more stylistic, verbal elements, instead of emphasizing the plot, the characters and the message.The characters in the book are all very memorable. Particularly Rowan with her big heart, tolerance, acceptance and understanding for everything and everyone. She's a much better person than I am and I wished, many times throughout the book, that I could be a bit more like her.Reading this story will leave a mark.
Jennie_103 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a good case of "never judge a book by its cover". I bypassed this one for a while because the cover just looked too teenage (I'm an adult who just happens to still read a lot of children's/YA fiction). And yet when I did get round to it, I found it completely absorbing. One of those can't-put-it-down books. And I absolutely hadn't guessed the twist at the end!
ThursoHighLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most exciting voices in young adult fiction, Jenny Valentine succeeds again with this story of a family coping with the death of a child.
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-Cia- More than 1 year ago
In this novel you will find very astonishing, msyterious things happening. The author does a great job of making you feel as if you are in the book yourself. As you read through this book you will notice that all the pieces are fitting together, and everything starts to make more sense. There are also some parts that are emotional. If you like realistic books, then this is definately the way to go!
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