of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Sufficient in JesusAge: 18-24Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5As you read you learn about Love.May 13, 2013Sufficient in JesusAge: 18-24Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In Broken Places
by Michele Phoenix
My review in two sentences?
While reading this book, first you cry and then you cheer.
And along the way you learn about Love.
"I'm not mom material. He made sure of that."
These are Shelby's words.
About her father.
And his child.
Shayla is four years old. Shelby is thirty-five.
And Shelby is about to adopt Shayla.
Her father's will requested that she become guardian of his child.
Thus begins the story of Shelby who is a woman who has convinced herself she is unlovable, and the people who want to show her otherwise.
Shelby cannot stay in her father's territory and raise his daughter, so she travels to Germany to begin a new life.
She will teach at a Christian school for missionary's kids and raise this adorable child.
Bev and Gus, a kind and friendly couple, take her right into their home and hearts, making her and her half-sister their daughters.
Shelby meets the creative and complex young students she is going to teach.
Shelby is amazed at the depth she finds in the students as she directs the play Shadowlands, about the life of C. S. Lewis.
And at the school, she also meets the health/gym teacher, Scott.
Gus introduces them. Like this:"Scott, meet your future wife." And Shelby prays for an immediate Rapture.
However, no matter how many protective walls she builds or keep-your-distance barbs she shoots at him, Scott continues to walk her home each night and ask her questions.
"What's your position on predestination?"
"I was predestined to eat cheesecake, and you were predestined to harass cheesecake eaters."
Scott refuses to be pushed away, coming back again and again, and Shelby knows something about him resonates with her heart. She just doesn't know how to say "Yes" to his love.
As I read In Broken Places, I wanted to cry for Shelby, and Trey, her brother, as the story of their abused childhood is told through flash-backs.
Then I wanted to cheer as Shelby chose Shayla, and as Scott chose Shelby.
And along the way as you read, you learn about Love.
Thank you Michele Phoenix for writing this book,
for showing the great power human love has to point us to God's never failing Love.
Thank you Tyndale House for sending me In Broken Places to review.
DalynYakima, WaAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Astonishly beautifulMay 10, 2013DalynYakima, WaAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5It took me awhile to warm up to this book. I felt there were too many adjectives. Too much wordiness. It took too long to let me know what was going on...but maybe I was in a bad mood the day I started it because before too long I was emotionally enthralled. I was completely in the world spun oh-so-cleverly by a gifted author.
This is a powerful story about overcoming the crippling and often generational effects of abuse. Specifically child abuse. Shelby and Trey- survivors, drawing life from each other, siblings that overcame. I can't say how much I adored the relationship these two characters have. All of the characters are amazing, the writing is witty and the story heart wrenching and then heart warming. Completely believable.
Reading the portions that were set in Shelby and Trey's childhood was often hard. Abuse is brutal and the author did a genuinely vivid job of portraying it, as well as the damage left in the wake of it. I suppose because she knows firsthand, having experienced it firsthand and calling herself a survivor. I love that God took something horrible in her life and brought something beautiful in the healing of it. Woven into the story is a life-strengthening message of hope. That Suffering doesn't kill us. Not at all. We get to choose what we do with what's done to us. We do, too.
I'd say this book was astonishingly beautiful once I got into it. If you want to be touched, healed a little...helped a bit, then this book is for you. I recommend it.
*This book was given to me by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a non-biased review.
Marcy PKandern, GermanyAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Driven by Characters You Will Love and Cheer For!May 9, 2013Marcy PKandern, GermanyAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In Broken Places follows a young women, Shelby, as memories and fear of her troubled childhood come back to trouble her present. Shelby has to decide whether "ashes" can be made beautiful in her own life, or whether to flee from all the things that trigger her trauma. In a moment of courage, Shelby decides to move across the world with her new four year-old daughter in order to start life afresh. She takes a teaching position at a missionary school, Black Forest Academy, in the southern Black Forest of Germany. Here she comes face to face with the ways her past can strengthen her_ or forever maim her from enjoying everything good in her life.
This is a story of overcoming deep and painful struggle.
The weighty plot elements are driven by loveable, relatable characters. A number of the characters brought the faces of people I know to mind_ the everyday people in my life. This made me realize just how "normal" these characters are_ and how their quirks, flaws, strengths_ are all part of our general life stories. Or of those we know.
The style of writing is artistic, with a flow that keeps it "real" but also intelligent. The voices are distinct, each with their own bit of humor, which helps to lighten a difficult topic. I love Shelby's brother, Trey. I've always wanted a Trey in my life. Always. Trey is a sidelines hero and, though MichÃÂ¨le didn't originally plan him as part of the story, he convinced her of his place, and rightly so.
The energy that keeps the book moving forward is simply that of a wounded, traumatized person trying to understand life. When twists and turns threaten to rock the carefully controlled stability, fear of re-opened wounds, or propagating and repeating history, and of losing control, take front and center stage. Because you love the characters and care about their journey, you keep reading. Isn't that why anyone ever keeps reading? Because you care? Well, when you read In Broken Places, you will care a lot about Shelby, Shayla, Trey, Scott, and a handful of others.
Even if you have no connections to Kandern, Germany, or even teaching-as-a-missionary life_ this is a great book. If you are someone who has fears, obstacles, a past you don't want to repeat_ this book is for you. You'll relate deeply with Shelby's process. You'll cheer for her_ and as I found, in essence, your cheers will be as much for your own journey as hers.
Ruth StilesCentral NYAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5May 4, 2013Ruth StilesCentral NYAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In Broken Places by Michele Phoenix captures the heart of anyone who comes from or is dealing with an abusive family situation. Shelby's father created an environment of hate, distrust, misgivings, and ugliness which has prevented Shelby from feeling worthy of anyone's love. However, her heart is captured by a little curly blonde four year old girl of whom she is suddenly the sole guardian. Shayla is Shelby's half-sister, and a little bundle of joy she knew nothing about until a few weeks ago. However, a new addition to Shelby's life isn't the only change on the horizon. Shelby accepts a teaching position at a missionary school in Germany, a country whose language she doesn't know. As Shelby and Shayla transition to life in another culture, love blossoms between Shelby and the physical education teacher at the school, Scott.
Carole JarvisJonesboro, GeorgiaAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Beautifully written, memorable storyMay 3, 2013Carole JarvisJonesboro, GeorgiaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In Broken Places by Michele Phoenix is one of the most memorable novels I have ever read. Michele weaves the emotion of heartbreaking drama with laugh-out-loud dialogue and tender romance in a novel that never fails to inspire. With beautiful prose, idyllic setting, and humor never far from the surface, this story of a family's suffering and triumph will entertain every reader.
Shelby's life isn't glamorous, but it is predictableÃ¢â¬âand 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 areÃ¢â¬âand 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.
In Broken Places is a book that succeeds on all levels and its characters will stay with me for a long time.
Having been privileged to visit close family living in Germany, it was the book's setting that first caught my attention. The southwestern German town of Kandern is the home of Black Forest Academy, a boarding school for children of missionaries from around the world, and it is in relocating there to teach that Shelby begins her new life. Michele beautifully brings out the cultural rituals - such as morning trips to the bakery and recycling ("Every Sunday around 7:00 p.m., identical shiny black garbage cans appeared on the curbs, their contents devoid of plastic, glass, and paper"), as well as the fact that loud talking is frowned upon. Visits to the Christmas market in Gengenbach, castle ruins at Sausenburg, and a toy museum in Riedlingen also add local color and richness.
The characters are drawn with great depth and complexity, and I quickly came to care about each of them. Scarred from years of abuse and living with the fear that they might have inherited their father's "bad" genes, Shelby and Trey develop a close relationship and protectiveness for each other. Shelby reflects that Trey was "my anchor, my defender, my friend. He was the eight-year-old boy who patted my back and dried my tears, the twelve-year-old rescuer who convinced me we'd be fine, the sixteen-year-old knight who promised to make it better, and the thirty-six-year-old champion who persuaded me that this latest assault would not shatter me either."
As someone who liked to be in control, never wanted children, and was a master at erecting walls, Shelby's "safe" world is shattered when sweet Shayla comes into her life, but an unbreakable bond of love is quickly established. One night Shelby picked her up and she "wrapped her legs around my waist and both her arms around my neck and held on tight. And we walked home like that, me embracing her and her embracing me, me rescuing her and her rescuing me. And the sun setting over Kandern seemed just a little redder somehow."
The romance between Shelby and Scott, a coach at the academy, is sweet, tender, and beautifully portrayed. Spiritual themes are also skillfully woven into the narrative. Shelby's spiritual journey is reflected in these words: "Though the consequences of my father's depravity were still mine to bear, I know that God had been faithful. And it was because he'd been there that the horror had been survivable."
Another integral storyline is the academy's play, Shadowlands, which depicts the love between C. S. Lewis and a dying Joy Gresham. Seth, cast in the role of C. S. Lewis, delivers this monologue at the end: "God loves us, so he makes us the gift of suffering. Through suffering, we release our hold on the toys of this world, and know our true good lies in another world. . . . The suffering in the world is not the failure of God's love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet."
Michele Phoenix writes this note at the end:
My sincerest prayer is that the pages of this book will shed a compassionate light on the ravages of child abuse, its soul-crippling tyranny and deep-rooted legacy. Pain need not win. There is life beyond bleeding. There is love beyond fearing. There is hope beyond despairing. I should know . . .
I am a survivor.
A review can hardly do justice to this beautiful, unforgettable story; it must simply be experienced. I highly recommend In Broken Places to all readers.
To learn more, visit Michele's website at michelephoenix.com.
This book was provided by Tyndale House in exchange for my honest review.