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- author Jackie French

Monday 4 November 2019

Review: The Science of Breakable Things

Nat’s mum is locked away in her room. She has removed herself from life and Nat’s therapist father is not telling her why. He too, has locked himself inside silence.

Mum is a highly successful botanist researcher. Nat comes to believe that it’s her dismissal from work that has caused her withdrawal. She is angry and feels abandoned by both parents as her father won’t discuss her mother’s condition in the same way he refuses to acknowledge his Korean heritage.

A science class egg drop experiment undertaken with her friends Twig, a bubbly, spontaneous and optimistic person, and the shy, reserved Dari, comes with prize money. Nat plans to take her mum to New Mexico to see the resilient Cobalt Blue Orchid on which she wrote her book, and is said to have magic healing powers.

The group set out to plan, practice and win, and perhaps bring Nat’s mum back from where she has retreated. But can shattered things be put together again?

This is an interesting and multi-layered, multi-themed novel that addresses depression/mental illness and its effect on loved ones as well as the sufferer, and the outcomes if neglected. It is about the importance of family ties and origins, but mostly about love. It also focuses on the importance of sharing information with those close to you when life throws you challenges that seem to be insurmountable.

Narrated by Nat, it has a strong, direct but personal narrative voice. Footnotes are frequently included to clarify references to certain things. This invites a more intimate relationship with readers for it allows them into Nat’s thinking space.

Weaving through the story line are scientific experiments which the class undertake and many philosophical gems to reflect on that lighten what may seem to some, an uncomfortable subject.

Title: The Science of Breakable Things
Author: Tae Keller
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $14.99
Publication Date: May 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781524715694
For ages: 8 - 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction