My review of In Broken Places by Michele Phoenix

About the book:

Shelby’s life isn’t glamorous, but it is predictable–and that’s the way she likes it. A survivor of her father’s violence, she has spent a lifetime creating a safe existence devoid of dependence. But her carefully managed world begins to break when, under staggering circumstances, she becomes a single mother to four-year-old Shayla. In a drastic attempt to escape her childhood’s influence, Shelby moves to Germany, but she quickly discovers how intimately linked memory and healing are–and how honestly she must scrutinize her past in order to aspire to a richer future. As she juggles a new job, a new culture, a new daughter, and the attention of an enterprising man, Shelby’s fresh start becomes a quest for the courage to be not only a survivor, but someone who prevails.

My 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.

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  • Kev  On December 23, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Nice review!

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