Broken for You is a debut novel of infinite charm and tremendous heart that explores the risks and rewards of human connection, and the hidden strength behind things that only seem fragile. With a riotous energy that recalls the works of John Irving and Anne Tyler, Kallos brings to life a delightful set of charactersamong them an old woman who converses regularly with her porcelain collection; a young woman who can fix a leaky sink but cant stop her own tears from falling; a Yeats-loving bowling enthusiast; and a woman who survived a world war with her sense of humor (and her affinity for Hawaiian shirts) intact.
When we meet septuagenarian Margaret Hughes, she is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. But as the two begin their tentative dance of friendship, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to the younger woman. This launches a series of remarkable and unanticipated events, leading Margaret to discover a way to redeem her cursed past, and Wanda to learn the true purpose of her cross-country journey. Along the way, a famous mosaic artist is born, a Holocaust survivor is reunited with her long-lost tea set, and a sad-eyed drifter finds his long-lost daughter.
Funny, heartbreaking, and alive with a potpourri of eccentric and irresistible characters, Broken for You is a testament to the saving graces of surrogate families, and shows how far the tiniest repair jobs can go in righting the worlds wrongs.
When Margaret Hughes found out she had a brain tumor, she stared at the black-and-white images illuminated on the screen behind her physicians desk"slices," he called them. She was surprised to see that her brain looked like two halves of a desiccated walnut.
Her physician spoke of cisterns, vessels, ventricles, a star. Of cells that had forgotten how to die. It was so complicated, so difficult to understand, but in all fairness she had no one to blame but herself. She was the one whod insisted on seeing the images, made him promise that hed be straightforward, tell her the names of things, explain why shed been experiencing these headaches, these slips of the tongue, errors in cognition, apparitions. The fact that he continually referred to the images as "slices" only made matters worse; Margaret had already been so flustered before her appointment that shed left home without finishing breakfast.
Dr. Leising pointed out the...
Broken For You is a marvelous, heart-warming read with a well-crafted plot and an undercurrent of very funny but gentle wit. Reviewers have drawn comparisons between Kallos and a wide range of writers including John Irving, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Tennessee Williams and Margaret Atwood, however, the book that kept coming back to my mind was Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (381 words).
Stephanie Kallos spent twenty years in the theater as an actress and teacher. Her short fiction has been nominated for both a Raymond Carver Award and a Pushcart Prize. Broken for You is her first novel. She is currently working on a new novel, Hope's Wheelchair. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.
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