When Reason Breaks


Rodriguez, Cindy L.  When Reason Breaks.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.  978-1-61963-412-1. 294 p.  $17.99.  Gr. 9 and up.

Elizabeth Davis and Emily Delgado are two high school girls who have a lot in common.  Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, and both girls share the same initials as Emily Dickinson (whose poetry they are studying in English class).  More importantly, both girls struggle with family and social issues.  Elizabeth is angry at her father and has a broken relationship with her mother.  Emily, on the other hand, has drifted apart from her best friends and feels pressured to conform to her father’s expectations, as he is a high profile political figure in the community.  Before the end of the school year, one of these girls will attempt to commit suicide.  Told from alternating perspectives, the story accurately portrays the different ways people experience depression.  In addition, the story manages to incorporate Latino culture, gay relationships, popular culture references and some of Dickinson’s poetry.

Realistic Fiction        Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

I could see this book being used in an English classroom to supplement a unit on Emily Dickinson.  The story contains numerous parallels to Emily Dickinson’s life, all of which are explained in the author’s note at the end.  Some of Dickinson’s poetry is also incorporated throughout the story, and the class discussions in the book give the reader some great insight into the meaning behind these passages.  Because the book deals with some dark issues like suicide and depression, I would recommend this title to older (high school) readers.​