It's the first Thursday of the month and time for our book of the month: Break by Hannah Moskowitz.
From the back of the book:
Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. Jonah wants to be stronger--needs to be stronger--because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is the only way he can cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders. When Jonah's self-destructive spiral accelerates and he hits rock bottom, will he find true strength or surrender to his breaking point?
Here's what we thought about Break, in alphabetical order ;)
Voice. The voice in Break alone is worth keeping it on your bookshelf. Then there are the characters. From Jonah to Jesse to Naomi to Charlotte, they’re all completely empathetic, despite some pretty huge flaws. There’s plenty of funny, too, including my favorite “mental health outlaw” line that I’m sure Hannah is sick of hearing. Finally, this book manages to be spare yet full of amazing descriptions at the same time. Don’t ask me how—just read it.
This book gets inside the mind of a teen boy, and it's not just girls, sports, and cars in there. Jonah is one of the most 3D YA characters I've ever read. The reader understands his motivation even when he's doing things he shouldn't. His love for his brothers is heartbreaking and heartwarming. Break is a swirl of emotions right up to the last page.
Um, wow. That about sums it up for me. I grabbed this book as soon as it hit the shelves, curled up on a chair and started reading. I couldn't put it down. Hannah completely blew me away with her writing. FPP was phenomenal, male POV was fantastic and the other characters were so real and flawed. I never saw where it was going and was surprised. That's a major plus for me. And the cover screams buy me!
It came out less than a year ago but Break is probably the YA title I mention most on Absolute Write. Why? Three little words: First Person Present. Hannah Moskowitz nails it. Her prose is crisp and pulls you along like a riptide. FPP is hard to pull off without it sounding somehow affected; Moskowitz does it so well that Break is my go-to book when questions about that particular narrative mode pop up on AW(which they do—with seemingly alarming regularity).
I also love her descriptions and dialogue. I just skimmed the first chapter as a refresher and was blown away all over again. “Her sneakers make bubble gum smacks against the pavement on her way to me.” How can you not fall for a line like that?
What can I say about the mastery that is Break? So many things stick out as amazing. First is the fact Hannah was sixteen when she wrote it, and we're not talking about any fluffy story here. This storyline has some heavy handed, deep shit to it(and Hannah would totally approve of me saying that!). Second, it is narrated by a guy. I have a heart for male narrators since two of my books have male POV. It's easy to fall in love with Jonah. One minute you crush on him, and the next you want to draw him into your arms to comfort him--to ease some of the madness surrounding him. Yes, it's hard not to want to mother him when he's being so strong for his sick brother, Jesse, and picking up the pieces of his fractured family. He's trying to be so much for so many. This personal neglect leads him to break down. Of course, this comes after many attempts of breaking bones since broken bones heal stronger. It's amazing the metaphorical world that Hannah brings into this story. It's also an interesting look into an alternative to cutting. Jonah is hurting himself to cope with the pain much like teens who cut themselves do. The characters in this book were phenomenal, and they stayed with you long after you put the book down. Who can forget bff, Naomi, as she's a misguided partner in crime to Jonah's mayhem? And even though we pity Jesse for the unbearable allergies he faces, it's hard to feel for him more than Jonah. As for the narration, I think it is spot on of a teenage male, and anyone who picked the book up without noticing the author would swear it was a guy.
With a rhythm that keeps you reading and a style that leaves no room for bullshit, Break is a book you won't want to put down. Jonah's voice is honest and easy to relate to. Jesse, food allergies and all, is the little brother you wish you had. Hannah does a great job conveying emotion and putting reason behind Jonah's mission.
Let's lay it out on the line. I have the attention span of a small mammal and/or goldfish. It doesn't take much to make me put a book down, and pick it up again, and put it down again...wait, is that a shiny thing? Ooh, look over THERE! Anyway, I picked up Break and did not put it down. I read it in two hours and did not notice the passage of time. I have tried for awhile to isolate the reason for this intense engrossment. I think part of it is the idea of the story itself-- boy wants to break all his bones? I had to read it, and I was pleased to discover that the subject of self-injury was handled with care and subtlety. Jonah has a unique psychology-- not what I expected of someone who is injuring himself-- but his portrayal nonetheless feels realistic. Speaking of Jonah: how often do you find a character who is deeply flawed but completely likable? His intense devotion to his brothers made me ache for him every time something went wrong. I missed him when I finished. I suddenly wanted to write from a male POV. I felt the need to recommend it to my mother. She loved it. All signs of a good read. Many thumbs up.
What did you think about Break? Leave us a comment. Haven't read it? Stay tuned for a special interview and the chance to win Break or better yet, run to your bookstore and buy it, you know you want to. Next month our book choice is The Shifter by Janice Hardy. Go buy it, read it and see if you agree with what we have to say. See you the first Thursday of next month!!