This is a novel that draws you in and invites you to become emotionally involved.
Shelby, in her mid-thirties, is a survivor. She and her brother survived their violent father and meek mother. Shelby's crafted a life for herself - a safe life. But her well crafted life begins to crumble when she find out she has been asked to be the guardian of a four year old girl. That crumbling of her safe life is the beginning of the healing she has needed, yet run away from, for too long.
The major theme that drew me into this novel deals with how much of an influence our childhood is on who we are as adults. Shelby is terrified that she will become violent like her father. She fears it is in her genes.
The author deftly combines the current life of Shelby with short vignettes of her childhood. We see how her current actions have grown out of a childhood experiences.
As a reader, that really made me think about my own adult life, my childhood experiences, and how the two are related. In another book I read recently the author said our brains are generally hard wired by the age of six. The experiences we have in early childhood are very formative. As we see the adult Shelby act in response to childhood experiences, we have to ponder our own lives and actions.
Right along with the theme of childhood influence on adulthood is the theme of healing. How do we heal those broken places? God does the healing, of course, but how do we make ourselves available for Him to do it? What are the areas where we have not allowed those scars to be healed? Essential to that healing is forgiveness, another element of this novel.
This novel is very well written. It is so well written I was immediately drawn into the story. I was a captive reader from beginning to end. But I had to stop several times and think about what I had just read. This is a thought provoking novel as well as a captivating one. It is one I'll be thinking about for some time.
There is a discussion guide at the end of the book. This would make an excellent book for a reading group. There is a great deal of thoughtful material in it.
I received a complimentary galley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Plot: This was a very redemptive story that, while predictable at times, was highly enjoyable. There were, really, several plots at play in this story, making the overall story line very enticing.
Characters: The character development in this story was excellent. The flashbacks allow you to get a first hand look into Shelby's childhood and understand her from her perspective. Even in the present, you watch Shelby's world transform right up to the very last words.
Themes: I would have to say that the biggest themes in this story are trust and overcoming the past. Shelby had to overcome what the past made her and move on with her life. In doing so, she had to learn to trust in others as well as herself.
Emotion: During the flashbacks, there is a lot of emotion. You can feel the fear and the apprehension of Shelby and Trey as they endure their father's wrath. Because of the emotion in the flashbacks, you can better understand the emotions that Shelby feels in the present.
Overall: I really liked this book. There was a lot going on, but not too much to overstimulate you. The way that you have to piece some of the story together, makes it more interesting to read too. You are left wanting to find out what you can about Shayla.
---I received this book for free from the publisher for this review.---
This was a unique story and I loved the realism. As a social worker who has worked with dysfunctional families for a quarter of a century, there isn't much I haven't seen. There are so many adults in this world who are still a bit crippled by their past. Instead of responding to love, they run screaming in the other direction. Instead of bonding in normal, healthy relationships, they have a trauma bond with another victim who is usually a sibling.
I found the book quite deep and a fantastic way to show how God uses the most unlikely situations sometimes to heal people and open them up to genuine love. The catch is we still have to let the person in and keep fear out of the equation. So we have to cling to perfect love, which casts out all fear.
That said, I don't want to post any spoilers, so I won't give away the plot points. I will say this... I liked how the author went into the past and shared a little bit more of their childhood with each scene. The book was told from the heroine's point of view and never strayed.
The author used a lot of visceral emotion to describe feelings, which I loved. The author also did a cute job describing her heart and stomach and how they did ice skating moves in response to exciting and new emotions. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is trying to understand the odd responses of people who were abused as children.
This book doesn't go into sexual abuse or gory details, but it does show the abject fear that children live with who have an angry, unpredictable parent and a passive one who doesn't know what to do to protect the children. It's very insightful and beautifully written. Bravo! I would definitely read other books by this author.
This is definitely not your typical warm and fuzzy kind of book but it is very good nonetheless. The author writes about a very difficult topic and how abuse not only affects the person at the moment but how it scars them.
Michele Phoenix does an excellent job with writing this story and about the struggles associated with abuse. This is certainly not a topic we want to hear about but it's one we need to learn from. Unfortunately, abuse is more common than some people realize.
Thanks to the author, Michele Phoenix, for writing such a good book. I give this novel 4.5 stars
I have quickly become a huge fan of Michele Phoenix! "In Broken Places" is one of the best works of fiction I've read in a while; a story that grips you in the first chapter and doesn't let you go until the last page, and even then you're so emotionally invested in the characters that you don't want to say goodbye.Â
"In Broken Places" is written almost like a diary, a first-person narrative by the main character Shelby Davis, who intersperses her present day story with flashbacks to a dramatic life changing time period 6 months prior and then also to her childhood. The reader quickly discovers that Shelby is a broken, although still successful and functioning, woman who bears deep scars from an abusive childhood. These scars continue to cripple and hinder her as an adult, and the way she was raised prompts a panic attack when she suddenly becomes a mother to an orphaned relation. However she, and the reader also, starts to understand how the thing she fears most is what God must use to bring her complete healing in Him.Â
This book is a very emotional read, from the absolutely gut-wrenching and tear-inducing flashbacks of Shelby's childhood, to the relatable feelings of anger, guilt and overwhelmingness. However, there are also moments of great humor and smile-inducing dialogue.Â
They say "write what you know" and Michele Phoenix has done it yet again, as she brings great knowledge from her own life, whether in her descriptions of Germany and the school she actually taught at for years, or sadly, in her own personal understanding of abuse. Nevertheless, its quite evident that God has brought Michele through her own experiences and then granted her an incredible gift of storytelling so that she's able to bless others through her writing.Â
So, I have to say, I was moved not just by the story of "In Broken Places" itself, but in the greater story of Michele Phoenix; to God be the glory!