Young Adult: Cracked by Clare Strahan

Young Adult: Cracked by Clare StrahanCracked by Clare Strahan
on 2014-06-01
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback

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'I'm pretty sure that by the time I finish high school, I'll be cracked into a pile of shards, beyond repair.'

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 cracked?

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?

Clover hasn’t had the most conventional upbringing. Raised by a single mother who the kids at school consider to be odd is not easy. Her mother is ideologically opposed to Facebook and her many eccentricities make it hard for Clover to relate to the kids at school. There’s also the small little fact that Clover has no idea who her father is.

When Clover and Keek bond over useless teachers and unreasonable parents, it is the start of a friendship Clover never even knew she needed. Keek introduces Clover to a very different side of life she didn’t know existed and is her gateway into an artistic outlet which is both therapeutic as well as criminal…

From the first page I loved Clover. She’s the kind of angry and confused character who doesn’t even realize how mad she is. At the kids at school, at her mother, but mostly at herself. And one of the best things about this book is how well Clover is written. She’s realistic. Her internal rage is palpable and adds to her three dimensionality. She’s an artist who poses the question about what makes art, art. Her new-found interest in street art is an interesting one considering this particular form of self-expression may be considered to be vandalism to some but something a lot more creative to others. Clover is also wonderfully ordinary. She’s not going to save the world – but if she tries hard enough she just might be able to save her little corner in it. She makes bad decisions (why anyone in this day and age would take up smoking is a little beyond me) but ultimately she has to take responsibility for her actions. She’s a character I could believe in because she is relatable.

The relationships in this novel are another highlight. Clover is an outsider in school and is fairly intolerant of her classmates. From her former best friend Allison to new mate Keeks, we get an insight to why Clover is how she is. The role of the parents are interesting – both Keek’s interactions with his mother and father and Clover’s relationship with her mum. I read somewhere that the hardest part about YA fiction is trying to find a way to get rid of the parents but in this book they are very much around – even Clover’s non present father – and it works so well. Clover and Keek’s friendship is a lot of fun. They have their problems and there’s a lot of drama surrounding them but somehow it just works.

Cracked is a realistic and relatable novel about growing up. The characters are real and written with humour and a fair dose of reality. This is a book I would recommend to any fan of distinctively Australian young adult fiction which is both meaningful and well-written.

Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the review copy. 

Favourite Quotes:

“There’s nothing worse than having no smokes. That makes your skin want to crawl off. In a way, I wish I’d never started. For one thing, I didn’t realize it was going to be so time-consuming.”

“‘Vandalism,’ Keek calls it.
‘Graff,’ says Cho.
‘Art,’ I insist.
Well, it will be.”

“Everything that’s not invisible is cracked, my love. How else would the light shine in…. and out?”



  1. First of all, the name “Clover” is awesome. This sounds like a fantastic premise as well (although I’m worried about the dog because I cannot handle animal deaths!). I like that the author has managed to find a way to include parents, because often they are so important in teenagers’ lives – whether for good or bad. Great review, I really want to read this now 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed this one. x) It was so sweet, but had such a gritty realistic angle that I was seriously hooked. I loved Clover and Keek! I shipped them so hard and they took foreeeever to even look at each other. x) It’s definitely high on my recommendation list for Aussie contemporaries.

  3. Is this set in England? Did the setting have any impact on the storytelling or your interest in the story? Did it create any confusion? I often don’t find stories with British characters/settings to be quite as compelling as other contemporary fiction, so, just wondering 🙂

  4. I’ve never heard of this one but your review has made me really interested! I’m really worried though because of the dog on the cover and then the synopsis saying it’s going to die D: Animal deaths make me so sad! Everything else sounds great though, especially Clover!

  5. Pingback: Interview with Clare Strahan - author of Cracked

  6. You have gotten me hooked! I’ve seen this around a bit within the Aussie community and now I really wish I’d read it earlier. I always love supporting books like this especially when the storyline sounds amazing as well. Will definitely be checking it out. Amazing review!

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