Review: Break by Hannah Moskowitz

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Where did you get this book: Library

Release date: Currently available

This review contains spoilers!

Blurb taken from authors’ official website:

The first feeling is exhilaration.

The second feeling is pain.

The feeling that never comes is regret.

Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. And Jonah wants to be stronger—needs to be stronger—because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is Jonah’s only way to cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders. This is the story of his self-destructive spiral, his rock-bottom moment, and how he finally learns to accept help and find true strength through recovery.

I found out about this book after I started following its author, Hannah Moskowitz, on Twitter. She was funny, a bit snarky, and I really liked her. It wasn’t until she did a poll on her blog where she straight out asked if we’d read her book that I decided I should give it a whirl.

When I picked it up, I was still hesitant though. I don’t read contemporary fiction. I just don’t. I prefer stories that are less realistic — that way I can’t possibly think that my life could suck as bad as the protagonist’s because hey, no zombies here! But I wanted to at least give it a shot.

Oh. My. God. If it weren’t for my two kids and visiting my family like I promised, I probably would have finished Break in one sitting. It is, quite simply, amazing. A lot of people write first person narrative, especially in YA (myself included), but it’s a rare talent to make it so real that that reader feels like they are literally getting a sneak peek into the narrator’s subconscious. I felt dirty reading break, like I’d snuck into someone’s head and got to see all the secrets they hide from the world. And it was fabulous.

Jonah is about as real as narrators come. Nothing was censored (and the book is rife with the F-word, so if you are disturbed by that, consider yourself forewarned), which made it honest and real. Everything from language choice to the inclusion of the non-girlfriend (read: friend with benefits) to the exhausted, arguing parents felt like something that could be happening in any house, on any street, in any town in the world.

Descriptive details were minimal, which I loved, and they fit the teen male narrator. He regularly noticed three things about his non-girlfriend Charlotte, her smile, the flowers she wore in her hair every day, and (big surprise) her boobs. If he didn’t notice it, it wasn’t in there. No lengthy passages of description that mean nothing. Only the bare minimum. It was perfect for the narrator and story.

And what a story! A kid who is so desperate to heal his family that he breaks himself over and over to try to be stronger. It’s intense and disturbing because of how real it is. Just another step up from the cutting and burning far too many teens engage in. What makes it more distressing is Jonah’s conviction that what he’s doing will help his situation.

As a mom, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ways my kids lives could go pear-shaped in the future. And I’m sure as a teen, people would see bits and pieces of their lives and friends in Jonah and his peer group. Break is both uplifting and heart-breaking. In short, contemporary fic or not, Hannah Moskowitz is on my must read list. Can’t wait for her next novel, Invincible Summer, due out next year.

I give Break 5.0 stars.

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