Monday, March 8, 2010

BOOK: Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos, 372 pages

TBR Lite; 20-10 Challenge: Charity book

I originally heard of this book at Literary Feline, when she named it one of her favorite books of 2007. I've been planning, and meaning to read this for over 2 years. I wasn't disappointed. It's a wonderfully layered book, with themes of family, and healing, and atonement.

Plot outline:
When Margaret, a reclusive Seattle resident, discovers she has a brain tumor, she takes the opportunity to make some changes. She decides to take boarders into her large mansion, full of stuff. Her first boarder, Wanda, is chasing after her ex-boyfriend. They strike up an unlikely, but lovely friendship. Margaret and Wanda develop and change as their friendship grows, each giving the other what she needs.

The book is filled with many wonderful characters who were a part of, or enter the women's lives. The layers of meaning in the title, broken, culminate with the mosaic works that Wanda makes with smashed pieces of Margaret's china collection, which is beautiful. What else does the book have? Some ghosts, some Holocaust survivor's, some very broken people, some timely coincidences, and people meeting other people who can add to and improve their lives, and then they do.

My only quibble is that I hate reading about dreams in books. The book itself is full of symbols and motifs, why is it necessary to show Margaret's dreams as her illness progresses? Dreams are so random, and you can get any meaning out of them you like. It's not just in books; I never understand why people will tell you all about the dream they had last night. It's either completely random and meaningless, or else they are sharing parts of their psych that I really don't want to see.

Speaking of coincidences and to end on a better note. I was looking in my google reader for some other reviews to link to, and I found a review posted by Dewey of the hidden side of the leaf from November 2007. Her blog isn't available anymore, but her feed is still there and will show up on my occasional searches. It's a bittersweet thing, (Dewey died in 2008) but nice to come across. Like Margaret, Dewey was about building a community around her. Plus, she didn't like the dream sequences either! She had the following quote from the book,

“Look then at the faces and bodies of people you love, the explicit beauty that comes not from smoothness of skin or neutrality of expression, but from the web of experience that has left its mark. Each face, each body is its own living fossilized record. A record of cats, combatants, difficult births; of accidents, cruelties, blessings. Reminders of folly, greed, indiscretion, impatience. A moment of time, of memory, preserved, internalized, and enshrined within and upon the body. You need not be told that these records are what render your beloved beautiful.”

also reviewed at:
carriek at books and movies
small world reads
3m at onemorechapter