I got a copy from NetGalley of Cracked Pots by Heather Tucker for a review. Cracked Pots is set in the ’80s in Canada. The story follows Ari Appleton is a seventeen-year-old girl from a troubled and dysfunctional family. This novel is a coming-of-age story.
Cracked Pots is the follow-up to Clay Girl. I haven’t read the first novel; I read this as a standalone. I didn’t have any trouble understanding the plot or the characters. The plot of the novel is very difficult to describe correctly in brief. Ari belongs to an extremely troubled family; their past tinged with the horror of abuse by their parents. Ari is the youngest of her sisters. The best way to summarize the story is that we see Ari grow and embrace her life through all the crap of the past and the present.
The characters of the novel are the backbone of this story. Every character has a significant place in Ari’s life and her journey. Ari is so brave and strong even after what she has been through, there is a kindness in her. She is always ready to take care of everyone never thinking twice. The first example of this is her relationship with her young step-brother Mikey. She practically takes care of him, shielding him from their troubled household as much she could. She has a strong support system, people who understand her and want to help. Ari is an amazing artist, and her art is often an outlet for her. You feel proud of how far she comes by the end.
There is kind of a love triangle in the story. Ari has a boyfriend, Jake, and she loves him, but there is this unexplainable connection she has with Aaron, an ex-teacher, who often helps her and Mike. In the beginning, I didn’t get much sense of her relationship with Jake. Her connection with Aaron seems much stronger, and you root for them. Both of them are realistic about their future, knowing they want different things in life. Their relationship is beautiful because it perseveres through thick and thin. Jake goes through his own battles, and Ari is there for him. Their relationship makes sense as we come closer to the end. Both are broken and have been hurt in a way that has molded them. It is this understanding, acceptance, and reliability that makes them right for each other.
The themes of hope and loss are persistent throughout the novel. Ari loses people, she loses herself and sulks about it rightly too, but she pulls herself up. All the Appleton sisters have suffered through abuse at their parents’ hands; slowly, and steadily they find their way in life. Ari does the same. You can see her growth from the beginning of the novel to the end. It is remarkable. The story becomes so raw and emotional in certain situations; it was hard not to let it get to me. The way Heather Tucker has written the novel is quite poetic and metaphorical. Ari is a quirky narrator, and it did take me some time to get used to the writing. It took me a while to get into it completely but, soon enough I was engrossed.
I loved Ari’s journey in the novel. It is her story and her journey that keeps you invested but there are strong characters around her, who help her every step of the way. This book is beautiful, poetic, and heartbreaking. I have never read a coming-of-age novel like this one. I loved reading it.