Book Review: When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez


Title: When Reason Breaks

Author: Cindy L. Rodriguez

Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publishing Date: February 10th 2015

Pages: 304

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.

   Goodreads | Amazon

When Reason Breaks portraits depression through the stories of two main characters- Elizabeth and Emily-that experience this mental illness in very different ways. One is loud and angry and the other tries to pretend everything is okay and hides her problems from everyone. The contrast between the ways these two girls live depression are definitely what makes this book unique, as well as incredibly important.  In terms of how this book talks about depression, one of the most valuable things that it does is that it shows that different kinds of relationships can help you go through bad periods of your life, but only because they bring comapany and support, never as a cure.

At the same time, this book has really good representation of  other minorities.  It has a latina main character and there aren’t any stereotypes surrounding her or her family. She is really smart, thoughtful and a really good writer. She is the daughter of a politician, so she grew up on the spotlight and that affects her; her father is really strict with her but he is busy with other things and has someone else to update him about her and her mother is going through some hard things of her own, so neither of them really pays her that much attention. On the other hand, one of the secondary characters comes from a latino household of supportive and caring parents, and the fact that this book shows two latino families that are so different from one another is really valuable and it reflects really well the diversity that exist within the latino community. Lastly, it also has a secondary character that comes from a family with two dads and Rodriguez handles it in a perfect way. Their son is an athlete, he is popular, he is proud of his dads and they are really involved in his life and they’re so supportive. Honestly, the representation in this book is brilliant.

Other thing this book does really well is dealing with family dynamics, it shows four households and in each one the parents are very different, that allows the book to show the importance that the presences of a parent has in a teenagers life and how – even if there aren’t perfect families – having support and love from your family compensates for many mistakes.

The last thing I want to mention is that the writing in this book flows really well and it keeps the reader connected to what’s happening.  Also, the Emily Dickinson poems and references add so much to the story. At the beginning of the book, these very dark poems that the author chose set the tone of the book, they create a unique atmosphere that makes this book so much more interesting.

Rating: 4.4 stars 

Have you read this book? Did you like it? Do you have it on your tbr?

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

  1. I’d seen this book floating around, but now that I’ve read this review, it’s definitely going on my TBR. There aren’t very many books that address the intersectional experience of being a POC and having mental illness(es), so I’m excited to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

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