The Science of Breakable Things

The Science of Breakable Things

How do you grow a miracle? For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has...

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Title:The Science of Breakable Things
Author:Tae Keller
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Science of Breakable Things Reviews

  • Jen Petro-Roy

    What a lovely book about coping with the unknown, challenging family circumstances, friendship, and hope. This is Tae Keller's debut novel, and I can't wait to read what she writes next.

  • Melissa

    In Tae Keller’s heartwarming yet humorous middle-grade novel, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS, we meet Natalie Napoli, a seventh grader whose botanist mom is suffering from depression. The only way to get her out of her funk, Natalie believes, is to take her mom to New Mexico to pluck the magical Cobalt Blue Orchid—a flower that Natalie hopes will bring her mom back to life. Using the scientific method—and with some help from her best friend, Twig, and their lab-partner Dari—Natalie learns that

    In Tae Keller’s heartwarming yet humorous middle-grade novel, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS, we meet Natalie Napoli, a seventh grader whose botanist mom is suffering from depression. The only way to get her out of her funk, Natalie believes, is to take her mom to New Mexico to pluck the magical Cobalt Blue Orchid—a flower that Natalie hopes will bring her mom back to life. Using the scientific method—and with some help from her best friend, Twig, and their lab-partner Dari—Natalie learns that miracles can and do happen. It just takes patience, and faith in the impossible. A stunning debut. Highly and enthusiastically recommended!

  • K.A.

    This book was so touching and wonderful. I teared up! Full of STEM geek love, bubbling with emotion, fun, sass, great friends, family problems, friendship break-ups and make-ups, real 7th grade problems I recall all too well! And a real look at parental depression. Highly recommend this one. <3 <3

  • Brad McLelland

    This novel is, in a word, FANTASTIC. Tae Keller's grasp of her MC Natalie's emotional arc is extremely well-tuned, giving us moments of such depth that I literally found myself in awe at some passages. Natalie is so very human as she tries to understand her mother's depression, sometimes getting it right, sometimes completely misunderstanding a situation, and I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed for Natalie, her family, and their entire struggle. But the book also gives tremendous moments of ligh

    This novel is, in a word, FANTASTIC. Tae Keller's grasp of her MC Natalie's emotional arc is extremely well-tuned, giving us moments of such depth that I literally found myself in awe at some passages. Natalie is so very human as she tries to understand her mother's depression, sometimes getting it right, sometimes completely misunderstanding a situation, and I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed for Natalie, her family, and their entire struggle. But the book also gives tremendous moments of light and laughter. I THOROUGHLY loved Natalie's friends -- particularly Twig, who injects the novel with pure delight and hilarity. And the science experiment embedded as the framing device for the book works so perfectly to help Natalie plumb the depths of her own emotions.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who might have a child trying to understand his or her place in the family, and who particularly might be struggling to grasp the nuances of depression and loneliness.

    I read an advance copy of this book.

  • Alisha

    Pros:

    A book about STEM and the scientific process!

    Amazing girl protagonist!

    Diverse cast of characters!

    A book that realistically portrays what it is like to have a parent with depression

    Well written and great pacing

    Cons:

    #rip all the poor eggs broken in the name of science

  • Abigail McKenna

    This is such a powerful book. Such an

    book. I don't know that I've read many middle-grades dealing with depression, and the ones I have read rarely deal with depression in a parent. And it's so well handled in this book.

    We follow Natalie, a twelve-year-old girl who is convinced

    This is such a powerful book. Such an

    book. I don't know that I've read many middle-grades dealing with depression, and the ones I have read rarely deal with depression in a parent. And it's so well handled in this book.

    We follow Natalie, a twelve-year-old girl who is convinced that she can fix her mother. If she can just win the egg drop, win enough money for tickets to New Mexico, show her mother the real miracle flower, everything will be solved. With her best friend Twig and new friend Dari by her side, she begins the quest to be rid of this Not-Mom and find Real-Mom again. And it's perfectly beautiful.

    I didn't know what to expect from this book, but it was what I didn't know I wanted. I loved listening to it - I've been listening to audiobooks on my way to sleep each night and this was apparently not a good choice because I just wanted to stay up and listen to it xD

    But yes, this was a beautiful story and the FRIENDSHIPS are the BEST and yeah, this is definitely special.

  • Meredith
  • Ms. Yingling

    ARC provided by publisher through Follett's First Look Program

    Natalie is dealing with a lot-- her best friend, Mikayla, no longer talks to her; she likes her teacher Mr. Neely but is occasionally overwhelmed by his enthusiasm; and her mother is so depressed that she doesn't get out of bed most days. Natalie knows this is because her mother was fired from her job at the university botany department by Mikayla's mother, but she wishes that she had her "old" mother back. When Mr. Neely suggests tha

    ARC provided by publisher through Follett's First Look Program

    Natalie is dealing with a lot-- her best friend, Mikayla, no longer talks to her; she likes her teacher Mr. Neely but is occasionally overwhelmed by his enthusiasm; and her mother is so depressed that she doesn't get out of bed most days. Natalie knows this is because her mother was fired from her job at the university botany department by Mikayla's mother, but she wishes that she had her "old" mother back. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter the Egg Drop competition for her science inquiry project, Natalie doesn't really want to, but thinks that she could use the prize money to cheer her mother up by taking her to Mexico to see the rare Cobalt Blue orchid that she was studying. Natalie works with her best friend, Twig, whose mother was a super model and doesn't always see eye to eye with her daughter, and eventually the two work with Dari, a fairly new student as well. Dari is very smart, but is having trouble making friends. The group tries many different ways to cushion their eggs for the drop (my favorite is using marshmallows and chocolate for the S'megg! If only they had incorporated a graham cracker box!). They sneak into the school to practice dropping the egg from a height, and their stealth tactics come in handy later in the book. Natalie's father is a therapist who makes Natalie see Dr. Doris to talk, and eventually things come to a head and her mother also must be brought into the conversation.

    Strengths: The situation with Mikayla is SO true to life. Very strange things happen with middle school friendships, and the reasons aren't always clear. There is a good mix of home and school life that I wish I would see in more books. Natalie's ethnic heritage is interesting-- her father is half Italian and half Korean (but not being interested in anything Korean), and her mother is described as having blonde hair. There's a lot of support for Natalie all around, even though it isn't always effective. There are enough other things going on in the story to make the book interesting. Love the cover.

    Weaknesses: I have come to the conclusion that I am the only person involved in #MGLit who is tired of all of the depressing stories. Everyone else (including Kate DiCamillo and Matt de la Pena) and is coming out with articles about why Sad Is Good. Fine. It must some horrible, Trump-induced Zeitgeist. I don't get it, but I have given up complaining. All I know is that sad books make me sad, and I don't need any help in that direction. I think a much better plan, when bad things happen, is to ignore them and move on. NO ONE agrees.

    What I really think: I will probably purchase. The cover is appealing, the length is right, and it's less depressing than a lot of books.

  • Lola

    Natalie’s mother is depressed. But what is depression? Natalie isn’t sure. All she knows is that one day her mom was okay—smiling, laughing, talking and

    —and the next day she wouldn’t even get out of her room, preferring sleep to seeing her own daughter.

    Natalie wants deeply to save her mother from whatever is causing her to lose her vitality, but she doesn’t know how. Would whatever idea she comes up with even work? Would it require a miracle?

    It makes me happy to see books such as this one

    Natalie’s mother is depressed. But what is depression? Natalie isn’t sure. All she knows is that one day her mom was okay—smiling, laughing, talking and

    —and the next day she wouldn’t even get out of her room, preferring sleep to seeing her own daughter.

    Natalie wants deeply to save her mother from whatever is causing her to lose her vitality, but she doesn’t know how. Would whatever idea she comes up with even work? Would it require a miracle?

    It makes me happy to see books such as this one being published. Obviously not because I take pleasure from reading about characters with family members suffering from mental illness, but because - and I think I've said this before - when I was a kid I couldn’t find one single book dealing with this topic. I didn’t even know what ‘‘mental illness’’ was, let alone to look for it to understand it better. Yet, today, kids have more opportunities than ever to learn about such subjects.

    This is a decent novel. But although some middle grade books are perfect for adults, this one does not quite fall under that category. It very much has a ‘‘juvenile’’ vibe and cheesy or cliché scenarios and lines. I was able to enjoy it because, having read so many middle grade stories in the past, I am not actually annoyed by those things anymore, even if they prevent me from giving the book a higher rating.

    Natalie’s love for her mother is beautiful and exactly the type of relationship I want to see being portrayed. Sometimes she is mad at her mother for ignoring her, and she fails to understand most of what is happening to her family, but slowly she is able to bring the pieces of the puzzle together, with the help of others, and she keeps hoping that one day her family will be alright again. She has faith. She has determination. She has love.

    So, again, a good novel, but I have read much better this year.

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