CJ Lyons’s young adult debut novel Broken incorporates the author’s real life experiences as an ER pediatrician, her niece’s diagnosis of Long QT, and a dose of fictional mystery to create an exciting thriller which high school to college aged students of all backgrounds are sure to enjoy. Although lush with intense subject matter, Lyons balances it out with protagonist Scarlet’s sweet, at times naive approach to life, even despite her own painful experiences. Told from Scarlet’s point of view, her undaunted inner strength carries the story through darker points, thus keeping the story fresh and uplifting despite the colossal social issues that are dealt with within the book.
The way in which Lyons taps into the drama, humor, and even the cliché of the whole “high school” experience is arduously realistic and relatable to readers. Even if readers have not personally dealt with all the subjects that are brought to life in Broken, they are sure to have at least dealt with one or two, or know someone who has.
Well-paced, the story seems to be going one way and then with bits and pieces revealed sporadically, readers are hit with an intense surprise, creating an even more interesting read. It’s a definite treat that leaves invested readers pleased and a bit in awe of the genius of Lyons’s course of action.
An admirable endeavor that informs, captivates, and assimilates readers into Scarlet’s world, Broken leaves readers contemplating what they just read, and satisfied that the “messiness” of it all could be cleaned up so nicely.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Sourcebooks Fire
Profanity/Language: 17 religious exclamations; 29 mild obscenities; 4 derogatory names; 8 scatological words; 4 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture (sexual in nature).
Violence/Gore: Character finds out about another student’s suicide, a few mentions of suicide throughout book; character mentions that another character is being verbally abusive, threatening, using foul language, and drawing violent inappropriate pictures; character is set on fire by another character, non-life threatening; character recounts being bitten by an autistic child; character receives a note with a death threat; extended scene (about 3 pages) characters engage in a physical altercation, hitting, tackling, etc.; character finds out about another character being pushed down stairs receiving a broken collar bone; extended scene (about 1 page) character recounts an incident in which he/she was witness to a violent robbery, non descriptive; character reveals how he/she received bruises; brief scene in which character reads a news report of a mother killing several of her children; character chokes another character; extended scene (about 1 page) character violently tackles other characters, blood mentioned; parent slaps child; brief scene character reports to being knocked unconscious, being bound and gagged, and locked up by another character; brief creepy scene in which character has a nightmare involving clowns.
Sex/Nudity: Character notices a picture depicting a topless model, hands covering breasts, hanging in a locker; character casually mentions having to be naked to be examined by doctors; character mentions that they have watched porn; boy character grabs his crotch making a crude sexual gesture; character teases another character using sexual innuendos; character mentions being naked for hospital procedure; brief scene involving a girls locker room, characters in various state of undress; few brief scenes (about 4) in which teen characters hold hands, hug, and kiss; advertisement for erectile dysfunction drug, sexual in nature; teen character forces sexual grinding motion upon an unwilling teen (clothes on).
Mature Subject Matter:
Child abuse, suicide, murder, bullying, death of family member, emotional/mental disorder, terminal illness.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Mention of character’s father going to prison for dealing methamphetamine; parent smokes a cigarette; report of a drug cocktail containing synthetic marijuana, bath salts, erectile dysfunction drug, and alcohol being consumed by a teen; herbal anti-depressant.