Title: Other Broken Things
Author: C. Desir
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Nat’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get 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, smart, and 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, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.
Huge thank you to Simon Teen Canada for this ARC!
I’ve heard C. Desir is one of those authors whom I should be looking into for tough issue books, as they all deal with a variety of topics and unique teen voices. Other Broken Thingsis definitely a tough read, but it might be one of those books that could have been a tad longer to flesh a few things out.
Natalie is a difficult protagonist to enjoy. She spends a lot of the book pushing the other characters, as well as the reader as far away from her as possible. This aspect is done really well since she’s an alcoholic refusing help from others, but it makes it hard for the reader to really get a sense of who she is because of how she is able to push the reader away. The hardest part to read how much others wanted to provide her will tools and help and she just recklessly kept pushing it aside. I found that heartbreaking to read about, and when it came to her parts I could sympathize a lot as someone who has dealt with people in need of rehabilitation because of alcohol and drugs. A lot of what Natalie’s parents go through are things I saw first hand, so I understood the pain they were feeling.
But I admit, I wanted a bit more from this book and I think that is why it dampened my enjoyment a bit. So much happens so fast to Natalie that in a lot of ways the reader is forced to accept it, but isn’t given time to process it. Perhaps that’s the point of the novel in a lot of ways, but Natalie jumps from so many different things in such a short span (from drinking to boxing to insert mad spoiler here). I think worse off, was that I predicted the big reveal and that sometimes bothers me. The writing was good though as I stated above, Natalie was hard to get into the mind of when it already seemed like she was closed off to the reader.
Perhaps this was the wrong book to start with in my exploration of C. Desir’s books, but I admit I enjoyed this one. Part of me was expecting to love it because the concept and approach were what I was looking for in a gritty contemporary read, and this book gave me that to a large extent. I definitely want to check out her previous two books now, and I do think this book carries some powerful weight when it comes to understanding those who want to become recovering alcoholics. There’s definitely some strong insight, and that’s the parts I loved about this book the most.