The Science of Breakable Things

The Science of Breakable Things

Book - 2018
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Middle schooler Natalie's year-long assignment to answer a question using the scientific process leads to truths about her mother's depression and her own cultural identity.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781524715663
Characteristics: 297 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the best books published in 2018.

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Aug 12, 2020

This book has so much heart! Natalie's mom does not feel like getting out of bed. She has started thinking of this version of her mom as "not-Mom." It is hard to be enthusiastic about science class when your mom, always your best science cheerleader, has no interest in your life. Fortunately Natalie has her unpredictable, but loyal BFF Twig in her corner. And why does science nerd and head of the class Dari want to be a part of their group? He will certainly be a big help if they want to win the Egg Drop Contest. Tae Keller deftly presents the realities of having a depressed parent while incorporating humor and hope into the narrative. Highly recommended!

This middle grade contemporary novel follows the story of Natalie, whose botanist mom is depressed and won't come out of her room. Natalie is convinced that winning the egg drop competition with her friends Twig and Dari will be the answer to all her problems and bring her mom back.

Not only does this book have a diverse cast of lovable characters, it is an absolutely positive look at therapy. Natalie doesn't believe in it at first, even though her dad is a therapist, but she realizes it was what she needed. She also realizes that it's important to talk about feelings rather than bottle them up.

The book itself is also formatted like a lab notebook, following the scientific procedure. An overall wonderful look of mental health with a healthy dose of scientific exploration.

JCLChrisK Sep 12, 2018

Breakable things. Fragile things, easily broken. Things like orchids and eggs. And people. People are easily broken. And fixing them is not an exact science.

This is an emotional, gentle, empathetic, understated, and oh-so-real exploration of fragile, cracked people. All of the characters are wonderfully developed, from narrator-protagonist Natalie to her friends, parents, peers, teachers, and friends' parents. Wonderfully.

Highly recommended.

JCLEmmaF Apr 30, 2018

this is such a beautiful middle grade book about family and friends and plants and depression and survival... i’m smitten and a lil bit weepy. definitely a new favorite.

“but right then, in that greenhouse, full of life and light and second chances, we were okay. as it turns out, you can’t always protect breakable things. hearts and eggs will break, and everything changed, but you keep going anyway.
because science is asking questions. and living is not being afraid to answer.”


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Jan 04, 2021

blue_ferret_147 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 12

Jan 18, 2020

FREDDIE ZHANG thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 13

May 26, 2019

mahati1 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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JCLChrisK Sep 12, 2018

It's always so awkward when adults comment on your age. They look at you and say You're still so young or You're getting so old, and you want to shake your head and say I'm not young or old. I'm just me.


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