All the Broken Places: Book summary and reviews of All the Broken Places by John Boyne

All the Broken Places

A Novel

by John Boyne

All the Broken Places by John Boyne X
All the Broken Places by John Boyne
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About this book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author John Boyne, a devastating, beautiful story about a woman who must confront the sins of her own terrible past, and a present in which it is never too late for bravery.

Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same well-to-do mansion block in London for decades. She lives a quiet, comfortable life, despite her deeply disturbing, dark past. She doesn't talk about her escape from Nazi Germany at age 12. She doesn't talk about the grim post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn't talk about her father, who was the commandant of one of the Reich's most notorious extermination camps.

Then, a new family moves into the apartment below her. In spite of herself, Gretel can't help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. One night, she witnesses a disturbing, violent argument between Henry's beautiful mother and his arrogant father, one that threatens Gretel's hard-won, self-contained existence.

All The Broken Places moves back and forth in time between Gretel's girlhood in Germany to present-day London as a woman whose life has been haunted by the past. Now, Gretel faces a similar crossroads to one she encountered long ago. Back then, she denied her own complicity, but now, faced with a chance to interrogate her guilt, grief and remorse, she can choose to save a young boy. If she does, she will be forced to reveal the secrets she has spent a lifetime protecting. This time, she can make a different choice than before—whatever the cost to herself….

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Boyne handles the alternating narratives well and uses them to create suspense, but they contribute to some avoidable repetitiousness in the writing and an occasional sense of aimlessness in the plot...The ending may spark fierce debate, for what seems to be an act of redemption also smacks of self-justification...A complex, thoughtful character study that avoids easy answers." - Kirkus Reviews

"Boyne delivers a seemingly redundant adult sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas...Boyne creates vivid characters, but a certain thematic obviousness dilutes the dramatic effect. Fans of the first book may enjoy revisiting the material as adults, but this doesn't quite land on its own." - Publishers Weekly

"A powerful novel about secrets and atonement after Auschwitz…All the Broken Places is a defence of literature's need to shine a light on the darkest aspects of human nature; and it does so with a novelist's skill, precision and power." - The Guardian (UK)

"When is a monster's child culpable? Guilt and complicity are multifaceted. John Boyne is a maestro of historical fiction. You can't prepare yourself for the magnitude and emotional impact of this powerful novel." - John Irving, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The World According to Garp

"This novel, this exceptional, layered and compelling story, is built on modern history and all of us people who live it. The protagonist, the elderly, forthright and mysterious Mrs. Fernsby, is more than memorable and every one of Boyne's characters, and every scene, dark or light, is limned in truth and insight. This book moves like a freight train, with force and consequence for the reader." - Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author of In Love

"John Boyne has written a propulsive, heartrending mystery that delivers on both an intellectual and emotional level. It is the story of Gretel Fernsby, a ninety-one year old woman who has spent her life keeping a terrible secret, and the reckoning she faces when past and present collide. Complex. Ferocious. Beautiful and hard. I could not put this novel down." - Ariel Lawhon, New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia and Code Name Hélène

This information about All the Broken Places was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

John Boyne Author Biography

Photo: Rich Gilligan

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He is the author of eleven novels for adults, five for younger readers and a collection of short stories. His 2006 novel The Boy In the Striped Pajamas sold 9 million copies worldwide and has been adapted for cinema, theatre, ballet and opera. John has won three Irish Book Awards and many other international literary awards and his novels are published in over 50 languages. He lives in Dublin.

Author Interview
Link to John Boyne's Website

Name Pronunciation
John Boyne: BOYn

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