Cracked by Clare Strahan

Written by Clare Strahan
Published in Australia June 1st 2014
320 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
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A wonderful debut novel that captures the essence of real, messy teenage lives: of action and consequence, of poor choices and fragile friendships, of standing up for what is right, and the attempt to make sense of a world when everything feels like it's falling apart.

At fifteen, Clover is finding the going tougher than she expected. Her life is close to being derailed on the rocky terrain of family, friendship, first love, acts of defiance and a planet on the brink of environmental disaster. So when Keek breaks his promise to her, and school sucks, and her mother is impossible, and her beloved old dog is dying, and her dad is in the wind, and the girls at school are awful and the footy-boys are bullies and she's arrested for vandalism, well, what else can she be but a little bit broken? Can Clover pull herself together, or will she spiral further out of control?

When life feels like it's fracturing, how do you find a way to feel whole?
Fifteen year old Clover had never lived a normal existence, according to her peers at Fernwood Secondary College, she's never quite fit in. So when a classroom altercation leaves Clover at the mercy of the principal, she never expected to be sharing the wrath with Philip McKenzie. Philip represents Clover's childhood memories, when everything seemed so easy and carefree. When she and best friend Allison would climb trees, when Lucille was still a boisterous dog and when she didn't feel like an outsider. Now she just feels like an anomaly, sharing her mother's Steiner lifestyle, offsetting the radiation from watching television with crystal healing and in high school, your own brand means the difference between being accepted and labelled an outcast.

Only his parents call him Philip, now he's simply known as Keek. They've never been friends, but both teens find their lives slowly entwining through a gentle friendship that neither were expecting. While Keek has his beloved skate park, Clover dabbles in creating street art with an environmental message. But not everyone is supportive of her work, mainly that of the authorities who don't take kindly to graffiti artists vandalising the community. But this isn't just a protest to save the creek where Clover spent her summers, it's a way to take control of her life that seems to be just out of reach. Keek isn't without his own problems, but being the incredibly loyal friend that he is, he joins Clover in her protest about life, being different and marching to the beat of your own drum. But even the best of intentions can sometimes prove to be the worse decisions of all.

Kelly's Thoughts

Cracked was a brilliant take on living life as an Australian teen, but teens all around the world can relate to the plight of Clover, and losing her way while finding her own feet. I think we've all felt like the odd one out at some point in our lives, popularity, sex, background, religion or even personal choices in how we express ourselves. But Clover takes it all in her stride. She stands up for herself and delivers with conviction. I loved her character, she's a gentle soul who's feisty and even through making a few wrong turns, she's intelligent. Together with Keek, the two just clicked. There wasn't any instant love, or romance, just a beautiful friendship of support and, on occasion, vandalism.

The only downside is that it felt as thought it needed to build towards a more monumental event. Regardless, the storyline flowed beautifully. I really enjoyed Clover's quiet moments of reflection. She wasn't an overly complex character, but she's real. Throughout our suburbs, you'll find a Clover. She's the quiet girl who carries the world on her shoulders until the weight becomes too much. She represents the different and the quirky and delivers one of the most positive messages in young adult. Live for yourself.


  1. This sounds like a really good Aussie YA books, I love how it supports a positive message and that Clover was a strong character :) lovely review hun x

    1. It was just lovely Jeann. Clover was frustrating at times, but she was incredibly real and loved sharing her story. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on it when you get around to reading.

  2. It did drag just a little, didn't it? I kept thinking "what's the point?" but then I ignored myself and devoured the whole thing in just a few hours. x) KEEK AND CLOVER SHIPPED FOREVER. Gah. They took so long to get their act together.

    1. Didn't they just! But the wait was worth it. I think a teen romance on top might have made the storyline too cheesy, I'm glad it was virtually non existent, it allowed Clover's character to really develop more.

  3. Really enjoyed your review. This one has just been included in my TBR list :).

  4. This one hasn't been on my radar at all but i'm interested in it after your review! Glad to hear about some pretty good aussies reads! I'm all for diversity!

  5. I noticed the slight drag too but I actually enjoyed that the book didn’t go to an unsurpassable event. I think the steady flow felt real and more truthful to life.
    Like Cait I shipped Clover and Keet so so hard! They were just so cute weren’t they!
    Thanks for the awesome review Kelly, and for showing this so I requested it!

  6. I LOVED Clover, too! Isn't she just wonderful? She's the sort of girl I enjoy reading about!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

  7. I love books that give out positive messages. I find them moving and inspiring. And I love it when the main protagonist sets the example. I feel like I would enjoy this one. Thanks for the review. :D


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