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The Girl with the Broken Heart


The Girl with the Broken Heart

Lurlene McDaniel has written an impressive 50 young adult books. Most of her books follow characters with chronic and terminal illnesses. Some of her previous books include SOMEBODY’S BABY and LOSING GABRIEL: A Love Story. She now lives in Chatanooga, Tennessee, but grew up in Florida. Her newest young adult novel is THE GIRL WITH THE BROKEN HEART.

Kenzie Caine is a Vanderbilt University student with a passion for caring for horses. She has dealt with a lot lately: her younger sister died tragically, her mother is not dealing with it well and she had a falling out with her father. Kenzie is spending her summer rehabilitating horses at the Bellmeade Estates stables and could not be happier about it. Kenzie’s heart condition means that she has a hired helper for the summer to do the heavy lifting. Austin Boyd and Kenzie spend their summer together, but there are some secrets they must learn about each other.

"Easy to read....The story weaves in animal rights and activism as an essential cause of tension between Kenzie and her family and succeeds in educating readers about those topics."

THE GIRL WITH THE BROKEN HEART is easy to read and focused on the two main characters and the three horses --- Blue, Sparkle and Mamie ---  they are hoping to rehabilitate. Kenzie and Austin are closed off from each other for different reasons, but they slowly become friends as they spend almost all of their time working with these horses together. The romance that readers know is coming takes a long time to develop. The story includes death, animal abuse and severe health problems without being a “heavy” story. I became very hopeful for all of the characters’ --- and horses --- well-being. I appreciated just how much I learned about horses in this book. The story weaves in animal rights and activism as an essential cause of tension between Kenzie and her family and succeeds in educating readers about those topics.

Even though Lurlene McDaniel has been writing for many years and published an extraordinary number of books, this is the first book by her that I have ever read or heard of. Her writing style is interesting to me because she doesn’t switch to alternate points-of-view each chapter but often switches between every paragraph, moving fluidly into the minds of both Kenzie and Austin. I am not sure if I have ever read a contemporary romance with this style. I liked reading from Kenzie’s point of view, and Austin’s point of view continually brought up a mystery of who he was also working for. He lives a sort of a double life, but readers do not know the details of that. The book is short, and the characters are frustrating at times, but I was still very much invested in these characters.

When I began reading THE GIRL WITH THE BROKEN HEART, I had no idea that the novel was interconnected with a few other books by McDaniel. Readers who are invested in the lives of Lani and Ciana are bound to appreciate their cameos in this book more than I was able to. I do not think that reading the other books is necessary to have an enjoyable reading experience. The idea of interconnected romance novels reminds me a lot of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series, which also happens to be set in Tennessee. I loved Kenneally’s series and fans of her books will likely also love McDaniel’s Bellmeade novels.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on January 16, 2019

The Girl with the Broken Heart
by Lurlene McDaniel