by Kat Spears
To be published on September 15, 2015
by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: When Jason Marshall's younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who's not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.My take: I really enjoyed Spears' debut novel, Sway, a book about Jesse, a morally flexible high school student who gets hired by a football player to plead his case to a girl and then (awkward!) falls in love with her. While the cover of Breakaway might suggest the books are linked, they weren't in any way that I could see.
Jason (or Jaz, as some of his friends call him) is trying to cope with an absentee father and the recent death of his sister. He's a working class kid with a tight group of loyal friends. I loved this aspect of the story -- realistic guy friendships are way too rare in YA as far as I'm concerned. Jason's family situation has made him a bit wary of romance, but one day he meets Raine, a tough-but-vulnerable girl who's trying to navigate her own family problems -- well-off but controlling parents. They're an unlikely couple, but just keep being drawn to each other.
That's about it. I loved the fact that this book was about ... life. About crappy things that happen and the people who step up and help you get through them. The book shows Jaz navigating not one but two tragedies and trying to find his way in two new relationships: with Raine and with his father.
On her Goodreads bio, Kat Spears mentions Richard Peck and Katherine Paterson as writing influences, and I see that in Breakaway. This book felt current and timeless all at once. The ending is a bit unresolved, but I thought that fit the story. I really enjoyed this one. It's a bit of a quiet book, but if you enjoy contemporary YA, definitely give it a try!