Other Broken Things

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A book that starts with the line “I’d cut a bitch for a cigarette right now” is going to grab you and not let go. Make no mistake, this is not an easy book to read.

On the surface, 17 year old Natalie is a child of privilege. She got drunk, drove, and got in an accident. But her dad has money and paid for a lawyer, and she got away with court ordered rehab, AA, and 100 hours community service.  There is only one problem. Nat isn’t an alcoholic.  She’s not the only one that does stupid things, she’s just the one that got caught.

Her old friends see it the same way. She can still party, right?  Why not?

Her new AA acquaintances, Kathy and Joe, think otherwise.

The two become her sponsors, and her friends, and show her what the lifelong battle with addiction looks like in human form. They wait out her anger and rebellion and self-hatred and fight their own demons at the sane time. There is acceptance, but also accountability.

Natalie is rude and self-centred, but it doesn’t stop the reader from being sympathetic. She is an addict, through and through, always trying to fill a space in her soul with an all or nothing attitude. She can’t do anything halfway; struggling under the expectations of unhappy parents, she gave up her passion because of her father’s concern about “appearances,” and she cannot face her own truth.

Natalie drinks to escape her lack of purpose. She replaces one addiction with another. But as she starts to look inward and really follow the 12 Steps, not just pay lip service to them, she begins to accept herself, and the people around her, for who each truly is. It means the end of some relationships, and the re-starting  of others.

Mom Sarah is perfectly written. Stay-at-home, shunned by her rebellious daughter and social climbing husband, she decorates for Christmas and wears holiday sweaters and bakes cookies and loves her daughter unconditionally. While Natalie can’t see it, or just doesn’t want to, Sarah will do anything for her. And as Nat begins to realize she can’t control everything around her, Sarah learns the same lesson.

Natalie’s father is a different story. So concerned for his social standing, he shuns his daughter’s challenges, and pays for treatment so that he doesn’t have to hide her away.

Christa Desir writes a story about honesty and control and hope. Admitting what you can and cannot control, and who you are truly are, is perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to do. Add the burden of an addiction to make it even harder. But underneath it all, there is hope.

An incredibly tough subject that is dealt with realistically; the ending is not easy or comfortable, but then, neither is the subject. The relationship between Natalie and Joe is uncomfortable to read, but so important to the story.

There are quite a few graphic descriptions of sex; not loving relationships, but desperately grasping needy events that are shocking, and show the depth of addiction.  These scenes are not for the younger end of the YA spectrum.

Other Broken Things was published January 12th 2016 by Simon Pulse.

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