Review: Ruptured - Joanne Rossmassler Fritz
Genre: Middle Grade, Novel in Verse
Published: Holiday House Books, November 2023 My Rating: 5/5 stars
A fabulous and heartfelt novel in verse about a young girl navigating the changes in her life and family, following her mother’s brush with death and recovery from a brain aneurysm.
"Lighthouses warn ships away from rocks, away from danger in a storm.
Their beacons shine through thick fog and light up the darkness.
I love the meaning.
Light equals hope, the hope that Mom could live."
Synopsis: Claire's mom and dad don't talk to each other much anymore. And they definitely don't laugh or dance the way they used to. Their tense, stilted stand offs leave thirteen-year-old Claire, an only child, caught in the middle. So when the family takes their annual summer vacation, Claire sticks her nose in a book and hopes for the best. Maybe the sunshine and ocean breeze will fix what's gone wrong. But while the family is away, Claire's mother has a ruptured brain aneurysm--right after she reveals a huge secret to Claire. Though she survives the rupture, it seems like she is an entirely different person. Claire has no idea if her mom meant what she said, or if she even remembers saying it. With the weight of her mom's confession on her shoulders, Claire must navigate fear, grief, and prospects for recovery.
What I loved:
It’s always incredibly powerful for me to see medically accurate and relatable representation for (chronic) illness and disability in children’s fiction. As a girl who grew up in the generation where those were topics not talked about in children’s books, as “kids wouldn’t understand anyways”, I desperately missed it, as it was such an important part of my real life.
Ruptured is a perfect example of the kind of representation of parental illness I would’ve loved to see. It’s heartfelt, accessible, not melodramatic, but doesn’t shy away from the “difficult” parts of coping with a sick parent either. It’s beautiful prose strikes a great balance of emotion, covering fear and sorrow, but also those highlights of joy, love and deep connection.
Claire herself encounters that same search for recognition and representation in books on page. Here she states another gap within the genre: “I need a book about a mother who survives”
“Sicklit”, especially catered to kids or teens, tends to end either one of two ways: a full recovery, or a heroic death. There’s no room for the more realistic version of events: the chronic state, the long recovery, the ups and downs, and the change it brings to your life no matter what. Ruptured covers that piece well, a little in the line of This Appearing House, although from a different perspective. Considering that was one of my favourite reads of last year, that’s comparison is a huge compliment.
I highly recommend this book to readers aged about 11 and up. Yes, grown-ups/parents who are interested in the topic: that includes you. This comes with a stamp of approval from both the medical accuracy side, as well as the personal one.
Many thanks to Holiday House Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
You can find this book here on Goodreads.