Summary and book reviews of Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki

Beauty in the Broken Places

A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience

by Allison Pataki

Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki X
Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2018, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2019, 272 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A deeply moving memoir about a young couple whose lives were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future.

Five months pregnant, on a flight to their "babymoon," Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave - a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident - had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night.

When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison had lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come.

As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation of this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again.

This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It's a tale of a man's turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places.

Chapter 1

"Is there a medical professional aboard the plane?"

I think all young doctors live with a certain amount of trepidation about hearing this question. What a terrible summons to get at 35,000 feet in the air, removed from all medical equipment or access to healthcare facilities or colleagues to consult. The question is equal parts known and unknown: you know why you are being called, and yet you have no idea to what. What if you are a throat specialist being called to deliver a premature baby, or a dermatologist being called to a life-threatening heart attack?

But on June 9, as we prepared for our flight to Seattle, Dave and I were not concerned with anything like that. It was a glorious early-summer day. June really is the best time of year in Chicago. After our long, notoriously difficult winters—the vestiges of which can remain parked like a gloomy, uninvited guest through May—the city and all of its inhabitants come surging back to life.

It was the ideal sort of ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The title of this book, Beauty in the Broken Places, speaks to brokenness and pain, but also to the beauty that can be found in places of suffering and hardship. It is inspired by the Ernest Hemingway quotation that is the book's epigraph: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." Discuss this quotation and examine how both these elements—beauty and brokenness—are at play in this story.
  2. Allison speaks extensively about her support system and how she had to learn to rely on family and friends in a way she never had before. Discuss the importance of "the tribe" in getting through life's hardships. Which figures in this story struck you as particularly poignant figures of ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

[Pataki] has good control of her story lines in this memoir, and successfully recreates the swirl of emotions she felt after Dave's stroke and the birth of their daughter, Lilly. However, she doesn't completely avoid clichés: there are a few instances each of "ups and downs" and "new normal." I also found her descriptions of Dave to be implausibly glowing. What I most appreciated, though, was Pataki's insistence that she was never especially strong or brave; she just dealt with these circumstances because she had no choice. Hers is a relatable story of surviving the worst life can throw at you and finding the beauty in it...continued

Full Review (812 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Media Reviews

People
An inspiring, intimate memoir about faith, resilience and the tenacity of love.

USA Today
Bold and commendable . . . A strength of this memoir is [Allison Pataki’s] scrupulous honesty.

Kirkus Reviews
[A] heartfelt account of dedication and devotion.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Interspersing details of Levy's ongoing progress toward recovery, Pataki delivers an insightful look at how two people faced a life-altering test as a team 'fighting to make the dreams of our future possible.'

Author Blurb Marcia Gay Harden, Academy Award–winning actress and author of The Seasons of My Mother
A beautifully woven, suspenseful love story with a stunning victory, reminding us of the resilience of the human spirit, and that anything is possible with a loving tribe.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Types of Stroke

Most strokes are caused by blockages in blood vessels, either directly in the brain or traveling from elsewhere in the body to the brain; these are referred to as ischemic strokes. A minority are caused by ruptured blood vessels (hemorrhagic strokes). It is important for doctors to identify the specific type of stroke that a patient has suffered before deciding on a treatment course as the treatment for ischemic strokes generally focuses on thinning the blood which would make a hemorrhagic stroke worse.

All strokes cut off blood supply and thus oxygen to the brain, causing some brain cells to die and leading to memory loss and numbness. Confusion, difficulty speaking, and partial paralysis can also result. The "FAST test" is a quick way ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Allison Pataki

If you liked Beauty in the Broken Places, try these:

  • Lean Fall Stand jacket

    Lean Fall Stand

    by Jon McGregor

    Published 2021

    About this book

    A thrilling and propulsive novel of an Antarctica expedition gone wrong and its far-reaching consequences for the explorers and their families "leaves the reader moved and subtly changed, as if she had become part of the story" (Hilary Mantel).

  • The Smallest Lights in the Universe jacket

    The Smallest Lights in the Universe

    by Sara Seager

    Published 2021

    About this book

    In this luminous memoir, an MIT astrophysicist must reinvent herself in the wake of tragedy and discovers the power of connection on this planet, even as she searches our galaxy for another Earth.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Harlem Shuffle
    Harlem Shuffle
    by Colson Whitehead
    Colson Whitehead is known for revealing hidden worlds of bald and gritty violence, many times ...
  • Book Jacket: The Debt Trap
    The Debt Trap
    by Josh Mitchell
    The Debt Trap by Josh Mitchell opens up the dialogue for meaningful conversations about a problem ...
  • Book Jacket: Razorblade Tears
    Razorblade Tears
    by S. A. Cosby
    Razorblade Tears, a thriller by S.A. Cosby, follows a pair of ex-convicts who team up to avenge the ...
  • Book Jacket: Once There Were Wolves
    Once There Were Wolves
    by Charlotte McConaghy
    In Charlotte McConaghy's second novel after her debut Migrations, environmental biologist Inti Flynn...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Morningside Heights
by Joshua Henkin
A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Never Saw Me Coming
    by Vera Kurian

    "Fun, entertaining and hard to put down."
    The New York Journal of Books

  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Notebook of Edouard Manet
    by Maureen Gibbon

    A sensual portrait of Manet's last years, and a vibrant testament of the artistic spirit.

Who Said...

When I get a little money I buy books...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Pull Y U B T B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.