Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Other Broken Things by Christa Desir

Other Broken Things by Christa Desir
Release Date - January 12, 2016
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 256 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the author of Bleed Like Me, which Booklist called edgy, dark, and turbulent with passion comes another compelling and gritty novel about addiction and forbidden romance, starring a fearless, unforgettable heroine.

Natalie's not an alcoholic. She doesn't have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like getting in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.

Unfortunately, her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.

But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat's life, and things start looking up. Joe is funny, he's smart, and he calls her out in a way no one ever has.

He's also older. A lot older.

Nat's connection to Joe is overwhelming, but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she's been desperate to forget.

Now, in order to make a different kind of life, Nat must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.
Other Broken Things is a book that is honest. It's honest in it's description, characters, and portrayal of addiction. This honesty translates into a thoughtful look at addiction, and those who struggle with it.

The heart of this story is Nat. She's what pulls this story together. She's nuanced, and flawed. Her struggles are what makes this story riveting and I wish we had seen more of her journey. I felt that she was the most developed out of all of the characters, and that she had a complexity that the secondary characters just did not possess. This is entirely Nat's story and this fact both hindered and helped the story. I walked away from this book feeling like I knew Nat, but didn't connect to the rest of the characters or the romance elements of the story the way I could have as a result.

Addiction is painted with a realistic brush. Natalie has setbacks, makes mistakes, and stumbles. It's shown to be a life long struggle, not something you officially are 'cured' from. Sobriety is something you have to work at, and it's shown to be just that - work. There is no easy fix, and the person has to be willing to put in the work in order to succeed. This portrayal is easily one of the strongest elements of the novel. I do not have first hand experience, but it read as very authentic to me. It seemed like the author made every attempt to showcase the reality of living with this, and also capturing the perspective of those loving someone going through it.

The romance is also treated very realistically. This isn't painted like some epic romance, nor is it a fix all for the problems that these characters have. This novel very clearly makes the point that you are not responsible for someone else's happiness, or the decisions that they make. Someone else cannot be responsible for your sobriety and the fact that the novel hammers home these points is refreshing. The age gap between the characters also doesn't feel insurmountable, simply because it quickly becomes evident that Nat is not a typical almost 18 year old. She's aged well beyond her years due to her life experience. This is portrayed differently than most love stories, and it's done in a way that honours the characters and the story the author is telling.

The only real issue I had was the pacing. It felt like it started out perfectly, but ended up rushing towards the ending. It felt like there was more to tell of these character's stories. I wanted more time with Nat finding her footing, instead of the love story. I wanted more boxing and her struggle with that. It, instead, felt that the focus was on the romance, and that distracted from the true heart of the story - Nat.

A story that studies addiction, and the harsh truth behind it through a character's eyes. It's one that is incredibly readable, and will have you breezing through it's 256 pages. It's gritty, harsh but always felt truthful. Those looking for a quick, but thought provoking read, will want to pick this one up.

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