Review / The Science of Breakable Things

20210120ma_0200Book: The Science of Breakable Things (2018)
Author: Tai Keller
Genre: MG, Contemporary [STEM]

Basic plot: Natalie’s botanist mom is locked away in her room, dealing with depression, and Natalie doesn’t know what to do about it. Then she hits on a way that might bring Mom back. If only she can win the money from an egg drop contest, she and her mom can travel to see the blue orchids that survived against impossible odds. With some good friends helping her, they’re sure to win, right? 


1) I was definitely rooting for Natalie in this book. When we meet her, she’s already dealing with a mom who’s gone into a severe depression. And her dad’s doing the best he can but slips into counselor-mode (his job). Sometimes, it’s hard to read about people with depression. But this is very much a reality in our world, and it’s also good to know that other kids are dealing with this type of thing as well. 

2) Natalie, of course, has a quirky friend named Twig. And even though I’m usually averse to names like that, in this case, it works for me. (She’s actually named after Twiggy, the model from the 60s.) Anyhow, Twig is a bright spot in Natalie’s world. And like how Keller also brings in (Slight Spoiler) Dari, the nerdy kid they team up with. (End Spoiler)

3) And then there’s the teacher, Mr. Neely! I love this guy. With all his enthusiasm and hashtags, he’s a memorable character. (More on the hashtags later.) I love how he gets Natalie to work on the Egg Drop.

4) And on to the Egg Drop! Okay, this was definitely the fun part of the book. Seeing the designs sketched out in illustration was great. To me, this seemed like it should have been the climax, but it wasn’t quite.

5) I did already briefly mention the illustrations, but I’m going to bring them up again. I think illustrations worked particularly well in this book due to the scientific process being highlighted.


1) (SPOILER!) MC finds out that the blue orchid she and her mother were growing (the one that her mom let die) is really a blue iris. As the daughter of a botanist, she didn’t notice? In my limited gardening experience, orchids can, well, live practically forever, but irises die quite quickly (within a few days at best). This whole depression thing has been going on for a while, so the timeline doesn’t make sense to me. (End Spoiler)

2) The waste of perfectly good eggs was hard for my frugal-non-food-wasting brain to read about!

3) Another teeny-tiny thing that bothered me was that Mr. Neely would sometimes put the letter ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ at the end of his hashtags. I’m fine with the hashtags. But I do like correct spelling, especially when it comes to #teacherz … (It pained me to write that!)


I love the idea of a book about an egg drop. I never did one myself, but when I taught school, the sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade science classes did one. They dropped the eggs from the roof of our three-story building. (I can’t remember if any of their eggs survived or not!) Anyhow, if you can handle the sad parts of Natalie’s mom (i.e. a mom dealing with depression), and want to read about egg drops, then I’d recommend this book for you.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

16 thoughts on “Review / The Science of Breakable Things

  1. Sounds like a lot of symbolism in this story with mental illness and the egg drop. But, I’m always glad to see another book about depression where kids may see and feel that they aren’t alone when they are living with a depressed parent. Excellent review and thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I will admit up front that I have been a part of many egg drops. Kids get so inspired by creating the perfect place to rest their egg. I also will have to admit that I put this book on my to be read list several years ago and somehow it dropped off. Your review has put it back on there and I hope to immerse myself in the plot soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve never done an egg drop, but I did launch an egg in a rocket and then have it parachute down! It was super fun. An egg drop feels like such a metaphoric but also relatable way to talk about severe depression. It’s a really heavy topic and easy to slip into hopelessness if written about wrong. Glad to hear good things about this one! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a timely review, considering that Keller just won the Newbery for another of her books! This book sounds really powerful, and I love the egg-drop aspect—I did an egg drop in school where I built a really complicated device that did not protect the egg, while another kid put the egg inside of a Tupperware filled with cotton balls and it survived. I’m still mildly disgruntled. 😉 Also, I do agree that hashtags like #teacherz are unacceptable! Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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