Things Don’t Break On Their Own

‘A captivating, haunting, and twisty story’ Karin Slaughter

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Pub Date 20 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 20 Jun 2024

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She could be anyone. She could be you.

Nobody ever found out what happened to Laika Martenwood, the girl who vanished without a trace on her way to school one morning. But for her sister Willa, life shattered into tiny pieces that day, and she has never been able to put them back together again.

Willa sees Laika everywhere: on buses, at parties, in busy streets. It’s been twenty-five years, and the only thing that has kept her going is her belief that her sister is alive, somewhere. 

But when a dinner party conversation about childhood memories spirals out of control, a shattering revelation from one of the guests forces Willa to rethink everything she thought she knew about her past. And, out of the debris of that explosive evening, the truth of what really happened begins to emerge. Piece by piece.

Masterfully plotted with shades of MAGPIE and THE PUSH, THINGS DON'T BREAK ON THEIR OWN is a propulsive debut about how our memories shape us, and the lies we tell to escape them.

'So so so good. A bruising, brilliant and beautiful mystery. An elegant, twisting story of loss and longing, of the ache of the unknown and the drowning weight of past trauma. A very special debut' CHRIS WHITAKER, NYT BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WE BEGIN AT THE END

She could be anyone. She could be you.

Nobody ever found out what happened to Laika Martenwood, the girl who vanished without a trace on her way to school one morning. But for her sister Willa, life...

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ISBN 9780241640630
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Featured Reviews

This is a beautiful, character led story. A present day dinner party brings up a past trauma in 3 women’s lives and forces them to remember and confront the past. I was hooked from the beginning, and enjoyed the interaction between the different points of view enormously.

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There is something very comforting about the concept of breaking into pieces, fragments of the self, of things, of memories, and then finding ways, new ways and unique ways, to join those cracks and recreate as something, not quite new, but something built on the strength of those fragments that remained.

This is a story of heartbreak, loss and rebirth. It is hard to read the emerging details of Laika's childhood but her story compelled me to keep going and I couldn't put this down after the half way point, I just had to keep going.

There is a message here also, of the treatment of vulnerable elderly people by greedy relatives and those who should be caring for them but are utterly lacking. I felt that I was in that house with them during that time and I wanted to stay because there was acceptance and compassion there. It was a happy surprise to find out what became of the cats, really nice that was included.

It ends well, and is not just satisfying but gives a warm and heartfelt closure.

This gets five stars from me and joins a very small number of books that make it to my favourite books list. LOVED IT.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.

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Things Don't Break on Their Own is a mystery drama that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. Beautifully written and totally compulsive. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my early copy.

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This was not what I expected from the synopsis but nonetheless it was an enjoyable, emotional read.

The dinner party in question is attended by 4 couples, some are also siblings, exes etc. but we soon learn Willa's childhood was marred by the disappearance of her sister Laika.

Throughout the dinner, and in Willa's and Robyn's backstory we learn about the secrets of Willa's childhood and what led to the disappearance or Laika but it's clear there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Like I say, this was not what I expected. I thought there would be more of the storyline focused on the dinner party but this actually plays only a minor role in the story. The main story is told via backstory about how Willa and Robyn met and how the disappearance of Laika affected everyone involved

I'm not sure the ending will be delivered without some questions from the reader but it was satisfying and a solid debut novel

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Viking for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

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I loved this book. Told in different timelines about 2 sisters and how one of them Laika goes missing leaving Willa and her mother searching for her over the years. The storyline of the sisters and a controlling and abusive father then the relationship between Willa and Robyn kept me gripped and I couldn’t put it down. This is the first book iv read by this author and I will definitely be looking for other books by her now. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this early copy.

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A dinner party romp I thought to begin with. So wrong.

The main character of the book is Laika who’s sister disappeared on her way to school years ago, her trials and tribulations through the years. Her unacceptance of what seemed to be the facts.

Then the girls father is shown for what he really is power hungry individual, but you hope it backfires. The end of the book is totally unexpected, complete with a total twist of the facts.

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Clever and intricately woven, this story draws you right in as Willa seeks answers to a mystery from the past. Revelations at a dinner party lead to uncovering clues that might reveal the circumstances around Willa's sister Laika's disappearance during their childhood. A thrilling and enthralling read.

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Things Don't Break on their Own is a stunning debut by author, Sarah Easter Collins. Part-family drama, part-mystery this dark and gripping story will draw you in and keep you hooked. The characters are well written, and deep making you feel connected and invested. This author is someone to watch and I look forward to seeing what they put out next.

Review on Amazon to follow after release day.

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I loved this debut novel by Sarah Easter Collins! This is full of deep character studies, and lives overlapping and intersecting and cycling others in a way I find truly satisfying to read. In that sense, I was reminded of Station Eleven at times. And regarding what is implied towards the end: good for her.

If publishers see this: I believe there’s a typo of “manged” instead of “managed” at 67% (on my Kindle).

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I read Things don't break on their own in one sitting. The characters were well written and the story intriguing. Grief, guilt, first love and the complexities that is family.
the chApters fall into three voices Robyn, Wills and finally Claudette and how Laikas' disappearance affects each of them. I was hooked from the first page, each character being written with the pain that each of them had to deal with.

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Things Don’t Break On Their Own by Sarah Easter Collins

Twenty-five years ago, Willa’s sister Laika vanished on her way to school and was never found but ever since Laika went missing Willa thinks she sees her everywhere. Willa will even go up to complete strangers asking, no demanding, like a crazy person, to know if they are Laika but they never are…..until one innocent night while dining at her good friend, Robyn’s house, Willa finally learns the truth of what happened to Laika.

I loved this book and did not want to put it down. I think Sarah Easter Collins is my new favourite author and I cannot wait to read more of her books.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Penguin General UK for a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review

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I found this a compelling and beautifully-written book about two sisters - Willa and Laika - and Willa’s close friend Robyn from boarding school. I loved the writing style and couldn’t wait to get back to the story. The present day opens with a dinner party full of interesting characters, including Willa whose sister Laika went missing when she was 13. This novel is a page turner throughout. I did find a few scenes upsetting though. The author writes so well about many things including emotion, loss, family ties and never giving up hope. I will remember this book and the characters for a long time.

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This book took my emotions on a wild ride. At once heartbreaking, warm and comforting , I enjoyed feeling connected to the characters. Ultimately satisfying.

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Wow. What a brilliant, beautiful and emotional mystery debut. I absolutely loved this book.
A twisty story about loss and longing, of the ache of the unknown and the drowning.weight of past trauma.
When thirteen year of Laika Martenwood vanishes on her way to school, her sister Willa’s life is shattered. Willa sees Laika everywhere. She believes her sister is alive. Somewhere. Twenty years later, at a dinner party the conversation turns to childhood memories which goes on to reveal the truth of what really happened. Piece by piece.
The story is told in different timelines, past and present through the perspectives of Robyn, Willa and Claudette. It’s so well written. A intriguing character driven story that just draws you right in and is very descriptive. Laika’s story was heartbreaking.
It’s easy to follow, a real page turner I couldn’t put it down. Definitely one of my favourite books to read in 2024. Highly recommend.
I look forward to reading more from @saraheastercollins
With thanks to #NetGallery #PenguinGeneralUK @penguinfigtree for an arc of #ThingsDontBreakOnTheirOwn in exchange for a honest review.
Book publishes 20 June 2024.

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I went into this one totally blind as I hadn’t heard anything about it but I think that worked in my favour. Certainly not a book that is easy to slot neatly into a genre!

I thought the premise of this story was really cleverly done. A group of siblings and friends meet for a dinner party and slowly they look back at the disappearance of a sister 22 years before. What do they remember and is what they remember accurate?

This was slow to start for me but once I got into it and wrapped my head around the characters, it was an engrossing read. It’s a slow burn but that works so well for this story and gave me time to engage with the characters and their perspectives.

There’s a couple of twists along the way and it built to a really satisfying ending

Thanks to Penguiin and Netgalley for the chance to read an early copy

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This was a slow burner for me, which I grew to love and in which I became thoroughly invested.
When 10 year old Laika goes missing one day on her way to school, big sister Willa does everything she can to find her over the next 20 years. Willa is sent away to boarding school, to escape the interest from the press, where she is given Robyn as a room mate, becoming best friends until the day of their final exam.
Some time later, they get back in touch, which is how we arrive at the dinner party at the start of the book.
The book is cleverly written. It starts with a dinner party and keeps returning to it as we gain more knowledge about the main characters.
This book would make an amazing film. An easy 5 stars.

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I loved this book, it was so well written with characters I really felt invested in.
There are scenes of abuse in the book which were difficult to read at times; Laika’s story was heartbreaking.
I particularly loved Laika, Robyn and her family, and Frieda.
I thoroughly recommend this book.

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I was intrigued by this book’s premise – a thirteen-year-old girl, Laika Martenwood, going missing, casting a permanent shadow over the life of her older sister, Willa, who still believes she sees her everywhere, even though more than two decades have passed.

The story opens in the present day with a dinner party, hosted by Willa’s childhood friend, Robyn, and her wife, Cat. As the drink flows and the conversation turns to how the human brain processes (and often distorts) memories, things take an interesting twist.

I would hesitate to call the book a thriller – it is certainly extremely dark in places and some of the details are harrowing, but it is moreover a character-driven story, which for me is the most important consideration for any novel. It was such an immersive read, and I found it difficult to put down, always anxious to know what was round the next corner. I found myself constantly thinking about the story in between reading - always a positive sign! The protagonists are well crafted and jump from the page, and I had a vivid picture of each of them in my mind’s eye.

The narrative flits between past and present, told from the perspectives of Willa, Robyn and latterly, Laika herself, and gradually the reader gains a fuller picture of what was actually going on in the Martenwood household in the build-up to Laika’s disappearance. Parts of the book made me flinch, and there are certainly elements which could be potentially triggering (domestic violence and animal abuse).
Ultimately it is a life-affirming story and the ending felt satisfying, if slightly bittersweet. The description of how Robyn’s mother dealt with her father’s illness was incredibly poignant and brought tears to my eyes. The prose throughout is exquisite and the attention to detail meticulous. I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys character-led, descriptive fiction.

This is a triumph of a debut and I look forward to reading whatever Sarah Easter Collins delivers next. An easy five stars from me! My thanks to the author, Viking/Penguin General and Netgalley for the chance to read.

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I loved this novel. Superbly written modern story set in the Uk with current and previous timelines regarding a family, friends and a missing daughter. Rich characters. I hope this author is planning to write more. Thank you to #netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.

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Things Don't Break On Their Own is a deliciously twisty debut from Sarah Easter Collins with an assured style and a well crafted plot. The set up is deceptively simple - a group of friends at a dinner party find themselves talking about memory and its fallibility, but through the use of several timelines and varying point of view characters the narrative expands into a complicated and character driven story that will have the reader questioning who to believe. Among the core characters are Robyn and Willa, who were friends in school before becoming something more. Willa's teenage years were marred by the disappearance of her younger sister Laika, who has never been found and the trauma of that resonates to this day as she still thinks she sees Laika in random places , train station platforms etc. When she is introduced to another guest at the dinner party she is taken aback by her resemblance to her sister, but tries to convince herself that it could not possibly be Laika after all these years.
I tore through this book in a day, completely captivated by the characters and the story as it unfolded and twisted back on itself, several times including revelations that I genuinely did not see coming. The pacing of these revelations is exceptional and I found myself turning pages compulsively in a desperate attempt to figure out the truth. There is definitely a darker side to this tale, with several descriptions of physical abuse of Willa, Laika and their mother by their father, so readers who find domestic violence triggering may want to take note. On a side note I was particularly moved by the side story of Laika and an elderly neighbour, the depiction of elder financial abuse by family members was unexpected but impactful.
This is one of the most impressive debuts I have read in quite a while and I eagerly await more from the author.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.

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I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately and haven't read anything that's really urged me to keep turning the pages, therefore haven't really been reading a lot at all. Until I picked up Things Don't Break on Their Own that is!

I'll be honest and say I thought this was a thriller before I read it. Sometimes it can be disappointing when a book I think is a thriller turns out not to be, but in this case I actually think the story and characters were a lot stronger than in a lot of missing person stories I've read.

The book follows Robyn and Willa throughout a period of their lives. Starting as students and working their way through adulthood, they were both so interesting to read about. Willa's sister Laika went missing when she was a teenager and the book shows how this has impacted her life. Robyn is a student in the boarding school Willa moves to after Laika's disappearance and ends up becoming close to her.

I adored both Willa and Robyn and could have read so much more about them. The writing was also brilliant and I never wanted to put this book down, it was so engrossing. I loved how bits and pieces were slowly revealed to you that showed reasons behind the decisions and behaviours of the characters.

There is a lot of domestic abuse in this book and at times it was difficult to read. I like my books dark so I did enjoy this aspect of it but it was hard going in places.

This review is becoming very long so I'll wrap it up by encouraging you to read this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did! You do need to suspend belief slightly but I think in this case it's worth it!

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Things Don’t Break On Their Own, by Sarah Easter Collins
Rating: 4/5
Published: 20 Jun 2024
Robyn and Cat are holding a dinner party, and close friends and relatives are invited. All is pleasant until conversations turn to the intricacies of memory and the past. Willa can’t help but think about her sister who disappeared during childhood. She has never been able to accept that Laika is likely dead, and suddenly old ghosts begin to rear their heads. Laika’s fate is slowly revealed, through a series of twists and turns. Each one is beautifully constructed by Collins, and I loved the slow unravelling of the truth. I cannot believe that this is her debut novel either. Such a brilliantly composed story, which captures the emotions of grief, hope, loss and resurrection perfectly.

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This is definitely not what I was expecting from this book. I was expecting a thriller about a missing teenager, but this is so much more than that. This is a hauntingly beautiful tale of family , friendship and love with some heartbreaking twists. Well written characters that you come to care about.

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I enjoyed reading this book which is a real page turner. The book is about a young girl, Laika who goes missing. Her mother and sister never give up on her and their lives are coloured by her disappearance. It becomes clear fairly early on in the book that her father is abusive. Her sister Willa is sent to boarding school to avoid the intrusive media. Here she meets Robyn who comes from a warm and loving family in contrast to Willa’s wealthy but cold household. They have a wonderful friendship which becomes a relationship. However, the missing sister is always in the background. Twenty years later, there is a dinner party given by Robyn and her partner Cat. Willa and her unpleasant partner Jamie are invited but who is Claudette? The rest of the book reveals Claudette’s story. A bit far fetched at times but a great read! Thank you Netgalley!

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Gripping and immersive, THINGS DON’T BREAK ON THEIR OWN is a mixture of things. On the surface, it’s the story of a missing girl and the aftershocks of grief when a family is left with no body to bury and no explanation. It’s also an emotional tale of first love, missed opportunities and the power of family, buried under darker overtones of domestic violence and the so-called ‘happy family’. It’s a lot of things to bring together, but Collins does it well and provides a real page-turner. I don’t think it quite reaches the literary excellence of Notes on an Execution or the foreboding horror of The Push, but it’s a great beach read.

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Wow, what an emotional and rollercoaster of a book! This is a story of a missing teenager Laika Martenwood 13, who vanishes about 22 years ago on her way to school, and how her family cope with the situation in particular her sister, Willa! It is told in different character voices and over different timelines. In the present, Robyn and her wife Cat, are preparing to host a supper party for 3 other couples - Willa and Jamie, Nate and Claudette, and Michael and Liv. We learn all is not right in Laika's life and she feels out of place within her family. Throughout the book, we learn how her vanishing affected Willa and the lengths she goes to hunt down her Sister. All the sub plots thread together leading to a surprising conclusion. It is well written and very descriptive. I highly recommend this book.

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Interesting, heartbreaking filled with grief and happy times. I loved this book even though at times it was very sad to read. What a different family. Laika was sent to the UK after her mum passed away to live with her sister’s family. Willa was delighted to have a sister and they bonded, Willa looking after Laika as she was thrown into a completely different way of life. The story continues with the girls getting on and then suddenly Laika disappears. She was not found either alive or dead and it played havoc with Willa growing up and led her into a life of drama. The story continues. Robyn and Cat live together with their three children and have a dinner party at which Willa is invited together with her partner and other couples. Robyn and Willa met at university and were very close for a while. Michael, Robyn’s brother came along with a new girlfriend who was a psychiatrist and her speciality was false memories. As the conversation went on Willa realised that maybe her dramas have manifested themselves with the disappearance of Laika – what does she remember, fact or fiction. The story twists between the lives particularly of Willa and Laika and it leaves you feeling so sorry for both of them for different reasons. The story touches on Willa’s mother and brother who were difficult to like for many reasons and shows what money and greed can do to a family. It was easy to follow the story and in some respects was sad when I had finished it. I loved the ending of the story and felt satisfied. A good read indeed

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"Things Don't Break On Their Own" is a fascinating thriller, told from multiple perspectives and through several timelines. While this might sound somewhat convoluted, the author has weaved this complex tale with great skill to ensure that the novel is a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. Detailing family heartbreak, love and grief, this is a tale of survival and how love can eventually win. And one that is guaranteed to stay with you.

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A dinner party lead a group of young people sharing their lives at the table. However everything is not as it seems but eventually the truth will come out

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, found the characters were intriguing however I felt the end was a bit too tidy, this, however does not detract from my recommending this book everyone

With thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for arc in return for an honest review

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Things Don’t Break on Their Own by
Sarah Easter Collins
Published by Penguin
Publication Date 20/6/24

No Spoilers


A real page-turner, this kept me engrossed throughout. Part mystery/thriller, part domestic drama with plenty of twists this book left me thinking about it way after I’d finished it. Yes, there are a couple of coincidences but isn’t life like that?
Highly recommended, and, I can’t wait to read the next book from this author.

Thanks to the author, publisher and to netgalley for providing me with this advance digital copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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After 14 year old Laika goes missing, her mother and sister don't know how to continue living normally as there is this huge hole that has been smashed into their life. Willa, her older sister goes to live at a boarding school to evade the press and it is there that she meets Robyn, who will become her best friend. Now don't be misguided by the mention of a missing girl, as this book isn't a thriller. First it dissects what happens to a broken family, and the influence of the press and the public. Then we get a taste of different settings, different families who all are somehow related to the disappeared Laika. There is the family life of Robyn, so different of that of Willa, the old neighbor who is slowly losing her memories, the life of Robyn and Cat in their messy but warm house. It feels like all characters are connected like being on a train, and we get glimpses of their life through each carriage.

Not only is it very interesting, and somehow reminiscent of Reservoir 13, but it is also very beautifully written. Especially the depictions of Robyn's childhood home were very heartfelt and warming. The point of view is sometimes very raw, and then sometimes distant and somehow adrift and dreamlike. I loved the writing style and I found it astonishing that it is the author's debut. If there is one small point of critique, it would be about a plothole, or maybe more precisely a incredible coincidence that I just don't see realistically happening. But it is easily forgiven, as it is a small issue in an otherwise very exquisite book. If you are looking for a beautifully written account of different family dynamics, grief and its repercussions, and human condition in general, I would gladly recommend this author.

Thank you NetGalley, Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business and the author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I truly had no idea what to expect when I started this book - I hadn’t really heard much about it and didn’t read any reviews beforehand, it was just one that drew my eye on Netgalley and there was obviously a reason for that! I love finding gems that you may not have otherwise come across and Things Don’t Break On Their Own is such a brilliant story, I’m so glad I got the opportunity to read it.

The story begins at a dinner party hosted by Robyn and her wife, Cat. Among the handful of attendees is Robyn’s long time best friend Willa and her partner Jamie. It is obvious that there are tensions afoot but it is only as the story travels backwards through various dinner guests’ lives that the reader is clued into the reasons behind them. One of the main sources of uncomfortableness is the subject of Willa’s sister Laika, who has been missing for 20 years, seemingly vanishing into thin air on her journey to school one day.

I think one word to sum up this book is compelling: no matter whose perspective I was reading at the time, I was always intensely focused on what was happening and really eager to discover more about the characters. There were many surprising twists that I didn’t spot heading my way and the mystery element of the plot kept me coming back to the pages at every available opportunity. This is a cracking debut by an author who I’ll absolutely be looking for more work by!

Thank you to Viking & Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed this book. It was complex and surprising with a real sense of true human emotion. The characters were very well drawn, particularly Willa and Laika. I also liked the theme of memory and how unreliable it can be - I thought that was really interesting and the book explores it subtly but well. A really good read. With thanks to the publisher for access to this ARC in return for an honest review.

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Really loved this, it’s beautifully written with different narrators and time lines but not in a confusing way. It’s a story of family and love, hope and fear and what to do when it all goes wrong. This is a skilfully crafted mystery come family come love story that kept me engrossed.

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The unsolvable disappearance of Laika- no CCTV, no witnesses and no evidence.
The characters in and surrounding Laikas family are so well written they step off the page and into your imagination. Each relationship is given just the right amount of background to make the character an integral part of the story without giving too much away and the interactions at the dinner party and subsequent flashbacks to the past are well woven.
A slow burner but with clever reveals.

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Thank you for sharing this copy with me, it was such a fantastic book to read and one that I have thought about frequently since. The development of the characters is fantastic, feels natural, unforced and believeable. The way in which the story builds from varying perspectives based around one night is handled really well and gives a really interesting context to the book. I would definitely recommend this.

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So I was invited to read this and was in-between books so thought I'd give it a go. And,wow. This book had me gripped. It was nothing like I expected, the blurb gives nothing away. You're taken on a journey told from different, intriguing characters,told over different time periods. The author drip feeds you information which keeps you guessing and keeps you turning the pages. I engulfed this book and will be recommending it to others. I'm looking forward to what this author writes next.

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A mix of psychological family drama and mystery Things Don't Break On Their Own is beautifully done and a bit of a page turner.

A missing sister and a life spent searching intermingles with a multi layered look at an odd and toxic family dynamic. What I liked about it was it doesn't follow the path of least resistance but rather entangles the reader in the various characters lives that are lived in contrast,the good and the bad.

Overall a great read.

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What a lovely but disturbing story. I really enjoyed reading it, and had trouble putting it down. The plot was very well constructed and well written. The disturbing bits involved the two main male characters, especially the father, although it was paramount to the storyline line that he was a serial child abuser. Will certainly read more from this author.

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I found myself drawn to the mysterious and emotional world of Things Don't Break on Their Own. This novel explores themes of mystery, family, and sisters, With its complex characters and intricate plot it's a must read debut. I will certainly be looking out for more by this Author.

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I adored this book, Sarah Collins is a masterful story teller and the story and characters weaved in this book are gripping. Would thoroughly recommend

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This is an emotional rollercoaster of a read that is both horrifying and beautiful all at once. It tore at my heartstrings as I started to comprehend the full horror of what had transpired so many years ago. I really enjoyed the ups and downs through this book.

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When Willa’s younger sister Laika goes missing on her way to school it sparks a nationwide search and means Willa has to change schools to avoid press attention. It’s at this new school that she meets Robyn and so we have the story of the lives of these 3 young women.

This is a fascinating book that took me along many different paths. Totally absorbing.

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Laika Martenwood goes missing. The story picks up 22 years later with his sister Willa, attending a dinner with a large group of friends. Their conversations revolve around false memories and strained relationships. Laika was 13 years old when she went missing. The tale reverts back to Willa and her dysfunctional parents and her relationship with Robyn, a school friend. The past hangs over every conversation and the story neatly knits past events with a satisfying ending.

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Twenty five years ago Willa`s sister Laika followed her to school and disappeared on the way, everyone thinks she is dead but Willa thinks she is still alive.
The present is set at a dinner party of Robin`s who is a friend of Willa with Nate Willa`s brother and his French girlfriend who looks familiar to Willa.
The past brings up Willa and Nate`s dysfunctional family.
Some good twists to keep you reading.

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and I give my honest review.

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This is a debut novel?
I loved this book, a cleverly drawn portrait of relationships and perspectives. The story opens with a dinner party where the guests are all siblings and their partners, with the exception of Willa. Willa is both an ex and a close family friend. The dinner party is fraught with a strange tension, and the story cuts to backstories of three of the participants via memory flashbacks. The flashbacks inexorably draw the reader forward in time to the dinner party and we begin to understand the emotional undercurrents in the room. A mystery layer is added due to the disappearance of Willa's sister, Laika, when she was a young teen and how her disappearance has impacted Willa throughout her life.
I thought this was a strong story, well written and with a good flow. It kept me engrossed and I enjoyed the satisfying ending which lets the reader fill in the blanks. I can't wait to see what the author writes next.

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A superb debut novel from an author to watch out for her future books. This was so captivating that at not time did I want to put it down. The characters are so well described that it was easy to relate to them all and what a diverse range of people they were!.The story was thought provoking as to how would I have felt knowing that I had lost a sister and how I would have reacted.
The story is a mystery concerning the missing sister and information was dribbled out at a perfect pace to keep the reader intrigued.
An easy read but very well written and certainly very interesting.

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This is story about the Martenwood family. A dysfunctional family. The father is a self made man and has used his wealth to buy himself a rich man’s lifestyle. His family are treated as trophies, his perfect model wife, his golden daughter Willa and then there is Laika! Laika doesn’t conform to her fathers ideal of the perfect child and his answer is mental and physical abuse until one day Laika goes missing on her way to school. Told in dual timeline and from the perspective of Willa, Willa’s friend Robyn and Claudette (Cat’s brothers French girlfriend) this is a compelling and well written read.

Briefly, four couple meet at at Robyn and Cat’s home for a dinner party. All the couples are family or close friends and as the evening progressed the story around Laika’s disappearance is gradually revealed. We also learn more about Willa and Robyn’s friendship, and their families.

There are a number of issues raised by this book, not just the abuse Laika received but also a side story about a vulnerable elderly lady, acceptance of your sexuality and the importance of friends and family. I loved the metaphor between Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together and the broken pieces of Willa’s life after loosing her much loved sister, that needed putting back together. This was an enthralling read with a few little twists and turns and one huge twist near the end. It wasn’t what I expected after reading the blurb I felt it was more literary than thriller but I was fine with that. I found it very entertaining.


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Twenty-five years ago, a young girl left home to walk to school. Her younger sister soon followed. But one of them arrived, and one didn't. Her sister's disappearance defined Willa's life. Everyone thinks her sister is dead, but Willa knows she isn't. Because there are some things only sisters know about each other - and some bonds only sisters can break.

Robyn and her wife Cat are hosting a dinner party. Four couples have been invited. Robyn's best friend, Willa's sister, Laika disappeared twenty-five years ago. Throughout the dinner, we learn of Willa's childhood and what had led to Laika's disappearance. This is a story of heartbreak, loss, and rebirth. It's also a story of child and domestic abuse, so this book won't suit every reader. It's quite an emotional read. The story is told from multiple points of view, and everyone has their own version of the story to tell. This story has been descriptively written.

Published 20th June 2024

I would like to thank #NetGalley #PenguinGeneralUK and the author #SarahEasterCollins for my ARC of #ThingsDontBreakOnTheorOwn in exchange for an honest review.

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The story begins with several guests invited to a dinner party. When a discussion about memory begins, Willa remembers her sister Laika who mysteriously disappeared when a child.

The story is mainly told from two viewpoints and timelines, going back to when Laika disappeared and the events leading up to the mystery. The two sisters had suffered a difficult childhood with their father, who was controlling and abusive. While Willa had quietly accepted his control, Laika had spoken out making her his target. When she mysteriously disappears on the way to school, despite an intensive police search she is never found, leaving Willa imagining she sees her everywhere.

Character driven, the friendship and love between Willa and Robyn, a friend from childhood is also tenderly explored, along with families and their differences, some supportive and encouraging, others toxic and abusive.

Although the book starts slowly, it gradually gains pace as the mystery unfolds and how everything ties in at the end. I couldn’t put down this compelling story and recommend highly.

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This was an excellent book. I didn't quite know what to expect with it being the author's debut but it was really well written.
It is a family drama with the mystery disappearance of a young girl at the centre. Very much character led, I really enjoyed this book.

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This is an incredible story; skilfully plotted with an engaging lead character and very clever exploration of numerous important themes. I’ve often wondered how people cope when a family member goes missing; it’s a shadow over their life forever and we’ll all be familiar with press reports of such tragedies.

Sarah Collins has taken this premise a step further and some 25 years after a disappearance, chance interevenes most unexpectedly. From there on, everything is turned upside down and Willa, the remaining sibling is forced to question everything she thought she knew and believed. Her life starts to fall apart as she recalls events from the past. It’s heartbreaking to feel her distress but out of this loss comes strength and this tale just works so well at many levels. Convincing characters, dialogue and setting and a coup,e of diff issues handled with sensitivity. This is a truly accompany remarkable debut and I’ll be looking for more from this author.

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I really enjoyed this debut. Told in dual timelines, the story centres around the disappearance of Laika Martenwood. Laika's older sister, Willa, never fully gets over her sister's disappearance, and spends much of her life searching for Laika.

The circumstances around what happened to Laika are revealed slowly and cleverly. I never once second-guessed what was happening.

More than anything, this is a novel about trauma and the different ways we deal (or don't deal) with tragic events in our lives, and the strange tricks our memories play on us.

A really accomplished debut, full of heart, that I will be highly recommending to everyone!

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There are many kinds of breakages with many causes, but, in families, causes are mainly physical or psychological, and most are deliberate! When thirteen-year-old Laika disappeared on the way to school, her family were shattered, especially her sixteen-year-old sister Willa, who had always tried to protect her and has felt guilt at her failure. Willa develops a fixation on the idea that Laika is still alive, and has never stopped searching for her. Robyn was roommate at the boarding school she was sent to after the disappearance. The two became lovers during their time in the sixth form. Although they are no longer a couple, they are still close friends and the story opens, twenty-five years later at a dinner party, thrown by Robyn and her wife, Cat, where the guests are Willa and her boyfriend, Jamie, Cat’s brother and his girlfriend and Robyn’s brother with his. The stage is set, all it needs is a catalyst, which is provided by an innocent game about early memories.
Clearly this is a psychological mystery story: What happened to Laika and why? But that is a facile description. It is a beautifully written, lyrical, examination of family relationships and the strength of friendships. The plot is meticulous, the twists surprising but somehow inevitable. It is told in segments, mainly by Robyn and Willa, starting at the dinner party and leaping back to significant events in their collective and separate lives; but always circling around Laika. Because of this we see some scenes from different perspectives, so this is also an examination of memory. After these segments finally converge at the party, the story then progresses towards its final revelations and forward into the immediate future.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the author for providing me with a draft proof copy for the purpose of this review.

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Wow, what a great read this was. It wasn’t what I expected, but so much better and it developed into a great read that I didn’t want to put down or finish. Highly recommended and thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the review copy.

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Intrigued by the start but it took a couple of chapters to be pulled in and fully engaged.

I devoured this book in 2 days, I didn’t want to put it down and wanted to watch the story unfold! I did however guess the twist within 5% of the book 😭

I can’t say too much without revealing most of the plot points. It’s one of those books where the bare bones synopsis and going in without a lot of knowledge makes for a more enjoyable reading experience!

I will say that I enjoyed the complex, flawed characters. I also loved the flashes between past and present, and switching character POVs. There’s much less focus on the dinner party than I was expecting and also not as fast paced/thrilling as I hoped (especially given that this is marketed as a thriller when I didn’t find that to be an accurate depiction at all).

Overall it was an interesting, engaging story which made for a very quick read! It only took 2 days to read 😃 I would say it’s less a thriller and more of a literary novel with a quiet mystery added in. I’d recommend for anyone wanting a quick read with complex characters, coming of age, or discussions on memory, family, and identity.

Rating 4.5 rounded down to 4

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A tale of two sisters, one who vanished without trace twenty five years ago and the other unable to let go, still sees her everywhere.

Part drama, part mystery with great characterisation this novel had me captivated from the opening pages. Moving back and forth between past and present its an emotional, compelling read that I didn't want to finish. One of my stand out reads of the year.

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I got so caught up in the family,drama,I was so rooting for the children. It is full of life's regrets,how a major event affects the lives of many people and how do you carry on afterwards? I did not want to finish the book.
An excellent read,

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