Winner of the guardian children’s fiction prize, Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine is a novel for young inspired readers. Rowan Clark, a young 15 year old girl is thrown into a whirlpool of problems where one thing leads to another. Loss, grief, friendship, family and love play a big role in the story. The death of her brother Jack, attempted suicide of her mum, the unexplained relationship between Jack and her friend Bee and also the mysterious boy named Harper who befriends Rowan. Everything is linked. Everything will refer back to the themes and issues of Broken Soup.
Broken Soup’s theme of loss and death is shown through Jack, his death and the detrimental effects it caused the Clark family. The calamity of Jack’s death affects and influences those all around him. The deceased Jack broke the hearts of many but left an exceptionally large hole in the one who gave birth to him. Jane Clark had missed her son more than anyone else and thus had lost the will to live. The tragic passing away of Jack transpires before the beginning of the book. Rowan’s younger sister Stroma is too young to remember Jack. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Rowan and her mother.
The loss of Jack was so great that it destroyed the Clark family. Rowan’s father left the family forcing Rowan to care for the family. With little time to socialise, Rowan must look after both her mother and younger sister. The bereaved Jane Clark can no longer take it, ergo tries to escape the torture by all means killing her self. The death of a loved one can make people lose themselves. Their loss makes us do stupid things. Jane Clark is no exception. She is the paragon example of the severe effects of the theme loss and death.
The romance between Jack and Bee illustrates what love can achieve; Valentine uses this to emphasise Broken Soup’s theme of Love and family. The end product of Jack and Bee’s relationship was a child whose part in Broken Soup was to bring Rowan and Bee together as a family. Sonny is given birth to after Jack dies and therefore can be said to have a part of Jack in him. This part of Jack later helps the ultimate recovery of Jane Clark. The love of Bee and Jack was subtle and a secret kept from their family and friends, thus the revelation about Sonny is used to bring those close to Jack together. If Bee and Jack had not met, the Clark family would still be in strife. Love is powerful and unexplainable. How it brought two families together is an unforgettable part of the story, in which it creates the very essence of the themes love and family.
The importance of a friendship can only be portrayed by the one between Harper and Rowan. Harper has ample time and Rowan has many problems so Harper is always there for Rowan, for the better and especially the worst. If Rowan ever needed to shed tears, Harper had his shoulder for her to lean on. Rowan’s mother is fortunately hospitalized after causing self inflicted injuries. As expected, Harper goes to the Clark residence to collect her belongings. Wondering why he took so long, Rowan is particularly moved when she hears Harper had cleaned the house of any blood. Harper was a boy who met Rowan by pure luck. The more they learned about each other the stronger the bond between them. Harper was seldom self centered. Upon hearing about Jack death, Harper does exactly what Rowan wants him to do. Harper is quiet; he takes Rowan’s hand and kisses it. Moments like this help to demonstrate the significant value of the theme friendship.
Ultimately, the themes loss, grief, friendship, family and love are not only incredibly insightful issues but also relating to everyday problems. Jenny Valentine is without a doubt an emotionally deep writer. Readers have the opportunity to experience the themes and how they affect Rowan and those close to her. Valentine uses appropriate examples to profoundly exhibit all themes in Broken Soup. Naturally, the themes loss, grief, friendship, family and love all have their own significant meaning in the story.