Title: Kiss of Broken Glass
Author: Madeleine Kuderick
Published: September 9th, 2014 (HarperTeen)
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Self-Harm, Psych Ward, Free-Verse, Addiction
Rating: Three Stars
Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page. In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain. When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.
Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. I’m really fond of black covers in general, I love the shards in the background of it. The red font for the title really gives a sense of the book’s summary. I like how it’s not perfectly written.
First Line: So here’s the thing about Baker Acted.
I love how Kenna immediately starts talking about Baker Acted is.
I was both drawn to and away from Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick. I really like to read “problem” novels, although this didn’t feel like one despite the setting and Kenna’s problem. I especially like to read about young adults who self-harm because I think it’s important to know about.
I wasn’t sure how well it would be given it’s in free-verse form and takes place over only 72 hours. I didn’t feel like I would get the full impact than if it was written in regular novel form. I can happily say I think Madeleine pulled it off though.
Kiss of Broken Glass takes place after Kenna has been caught cutting in the school bathroom and taken for a psych evaluation at Baker Acted. There is such a feel of despair for Kenna in Kiss of Broken Glass when she says it doesn’t matter what anyone says after she’s been caught cutting, she’s going to be taken to the psych ward..
There were a lot of interesting aspects to Kiss of Broken Glass that I was happy to see. The first was Kenna’s reason for cutting. At Kenna’s school, there’s a group called The Sisters of Broken Glass who all self-harm themselves by cutting. Kenna’s friend Rennie helps her join the group ensuring her sense of belonging. It tugged at my emotional heartstrings when Kenna lists ten things Rennie didn’t tell her about cutting. Like how she wouldn’t be able to stop.
Kenna gets turned in to the school by a girl named Tara that she calls Tara Two-Faced. I thought it was interesting how Kenna states Tara gets jealous if anyone has better scars than she does. I’d heard about some kids self-harming just because others did it, but never actually read a book about it. Kenna says she cuts because she fits in and it gives her a rush. Another thing the girls in the Sisters of Broken Glass did was share secrets like how to cover up cuts, excuses to use for their scars, how to steal cutting items, and giving each other ointment. I thought it was well done with how realistic it sounded and incredibly sad.
Other aspects in Kiss of Broken Glass I really enjoyed were different things I had read about in relation to cutting. The first is the social media aspect with Tara encouraging cutting and creating a hashtag over a singer for it. This definitely made me think about how teenagers were doing this over Justin Beiber a few years ago. I thought it was clever this was added in.
I had some Cut by Patricia McCormick and Willow by Julia Hoban flashbacks, two other Young Adult novels that had self-harming main characters. Particularly this happened when Kenna listed the reasons a person may cut themselves. Some of the reasons being they think they’re the cause of their parents death; because their friend or boyfriend committed suicide; because they think they’re the cause of their brother’s illness; sexual assault; abuse, etc. I also had flashbacks to Cut with the group therapy sessions Kenna had to take and the family aspect, of her having two parents and a younger brother. I really liked the group therapy Kenna had to go to, I wish the book would have delved more into it and the kids gave Roger (the group leader) more of a chance to help them.
Another character we meet in Kiss of Broken Glass is Kenna’s roommate, Donya. Donya tells her that in order to get out of the psych ward, she has to play by their rules. This includes lying about your feelings, eating whatever food they give you, being respectful and giving them the answers they want to hear. I thought Donya was an interesting character, but wasn’t explored very much.
Regarding the group therapy aspects, I loved the character of Skylar, she seemed really sweet. I like how she participated in coming up with alternatives to cutting, a lot of which I’ve heard of. The Butterfly Project was a cutting alternative I’ve heard of over the ears and I loved how it was mentioned. I loved how Skylar drew a butterfly on herself and Kenna to help themselves stop cutting. The idea behind the butterfly is that the wearer gives it a name of a person they love, if they cut themselves, the butterfly then dies. I loved who Kenna named her butterfly after and how even with that she kept struggling. Another character we meet in Kiss of Broken Glass is Kenna’s roommate Donya.
I loved how a young boy is brought in and Kenna thinks about her own younger brother who isn’t aware that she’s in a psych ward. I thought it was really touching that she felt for the boy. I like how Kenna states she didn’t have a “real” reason to really self-harm herself. She did it after hearing other girls talking about doing it. Then she did it because of peer pressure and to be well liked. I was sympathetic with Kenna’ character. In Kiss of Broken Glass we hear about Kenna’s home life, including an older stepsister she’s jealous of and a father who she used to see as Superman that isn’t very super anymore.
I did think there was one flaw in the Kiss of Broken Glass. I’m not sure if it’s as much of a flaw than an unnecessary addition, the slight romance interactions between Kenna and Jag. I felt this could have been done without, though it does done well. I just found it a little unbelievable how Kenna is there for less than a day and she already meets this guy who’s already curious to know her. I felt Kiss of Broken Glass would have done well if it was a longer novel and really able to open up about Skylar, Donya and Jag. Other than those two things, I liked Kiss of Broken Glass very much.
I really liked how there isn’t a typical happy ending. In those three short days, Kenna isn’t magically cured and perfectly fine. She’s been given advice and told she may relapse with self-harming but how it’s typical with any addiction. I like how she says at the ending how she’ll still struggle with it, that she’s not cured just because she went to a psychiatric ward for three days and it’s an on-going journey.
I found Kiss of Broken Glass to be enjoyable and a very eye opening read. Kiss of Broken Glass gave a new view of people who self-harm and how people do it for different reasons. The poetry was really nice to read and told the story perfectly. I really enjoyed Kuderick’s debut novel. I loved the writing style, Kenna’s character and the setting she used. Although the characters weren’t all as drawn out as I wished, I found them enjoyable to read about. I’ll definitely read Kuderick’s future works.
“I made the first cut razor thin. A gentle kiss on virgin skin.”