The story centers on Shelby, a modern-day, 30-something single American, trying to adjust to her new role as a "pseudo-mother" (a label of her own invention) to a little girl named Shayla. Shelby "inherits" Shayla after the girl's father, a man Shelby cannot forgive, passes away. Hoping a new job in a new country will provide a fresh start, Shelby accepts a teaching position at a school in Germany. Moving across the globe does not allow Shelby to escape the scars from her past, however; it forces her to face them.
'IBP' is written in the witty, sarcastic voice of Shelby. Dialogue drives the narrative, making it fast-paced and hard to put down. The characters are lovable and believable.
Much of this novel seems to be taken from Phoenix's own life. The abuse, for example, is referenced in her concluding remarks. The location is exactly where she taught for two decades (see her personal blog for photos and background details).
Overall, a good read for anyone - especially readers who also have broken places and need a reminder that it is in those places that we are made strong.
Shelby's life isn't glamorous, but it is predictableâ€”and that's the way she likes it. A survivor of her father's violence, she has spent a lifetime creating a safe existence devoid of dependence. But her carefully managed world begins to break when, under staggering circumstances, she becomes a single mother to four-year-old Shayla. In a drastic attempt to escape her childhood's influence, Shelby moves to Germany, but she quickly discovers how intimately linked memory and healing areâ€”and how honestly she must scrutinize her past in order to aspire to a richer future. As she juggles a new job, a new culture, a new daughter, and the attention of an enterprising man, Shelby's fresh start becomes a quest for the courage to be not only a survivor, but someone who prevails.
I really wanted to like this book. I enjoyed the character development and thought the plot was a good one. I found it difficult to read because the story kept jumping in time from present day to a few months earlier to flashbacks from Shelby's own childhood. I just found it disjointed and a bit difficult to stay with.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In Broken Places is the first book I've read by Michele Phoenix. As I write this review, I cannot remember what about the summary drew me into choosing it, unless it was the words "she becomes a single mother of four-year-old Shayla. Having been a single mother, but through different circumstances, perhaps my empathy for single mothers everywhere called my name.
This book recently travelled with me via Amtrak across the country, and it made for a good read among other passengers, in busy dining and lounge cars, and when there was lots of starting and stopping. And that is thanks to the seamless writing used by its author.
At once, Phoenix drew me to a caring state of mind and heart for her characters. Shelby and her brother, Trey, had survived years of abuse at the hands of a father who then suddenly left the family. Together, they had shared a bond unbreakable. They thought he was out of their lives forever.
But an unimaginable surprise waited for Shelby when their father dies. Under his will, he leaves her something she doesn't know how to cope with, or for that matter know what to do with. This bequest ultimately changes her life and that of other people.
Her decision about this bequest takes her to Germany, a new teaching position, a handsome coach who wants nothing more than to get to know her better, and new-found friends who give her the support she needs. A story which restores hope and joy.
Here you must trust me: If you're looking for a poignant, fast-moving summer read, In Broken Places is for you. Michele Phoenix knows how to keep her readers engaged and moving toward that last page.
This is the type of book I like to read. The main character, Shelby, has some brokenness from her past that she comes face-to-face with and she can't run away and ignore it, she must deal with it. My heart breaks for her as I read about the abuse she suffered as a child, probably because a lot of the verbal abuse hit way too close to home for me. I remember the tension, the waiting to see if you would say something wrong that would set off a torrent of verbal bashing.
There is also a dash of romance, which I always enjoy as well.