For Faith’n’Fiction Saturday this week, I participated in a round table discussion with several other bloggers about: Broken: A Novel by Travis Thrasher (FaithWords, May 25, 2010), 288 pages
Brief book summary and overview
Laila’s always running, living in fear, looking over her shoulder, trusting no one. As the story unfolds, we learn what’s real and what’s in her head, as well as why she runs.
Most of my thoughts on this book are expressed in the roundtable discussion, but just one note: It wobbled on the edge of cheesy at one point, but I felt it refrained from crossing that line, thankfully.
And now a small part of the discussion, which is spread out over the blogs of all the participants, divided topically.
• Introduction: Amy at My Friend Amy
• Overall Feelings about the Story: Lisa at 5 Minutes for Books
• The Supernatural Elements: Jennifer at Mrs. Q Book Addict
• Role of Reviewers and Participants: Thomas at My Random Thoughts
The Plot and Plot Devices
Thomas: At first I had no issues with the way the book started off. Laila was a prostitute who was on the run. It began to bother me when there was no explanation on how Laila went from a model to a prostitute. It became a big issue after the author had Laila being raped at 15 and going to New Orleans and getting pregnant at 17 which led to an abortion..
At times I thought the James’ and Connor’s parts were being over done or maybe even forced. At one point I even said out loud while reading this just seems stupid when James was trying to get Kyle to give him the money so he would hand Laila over Kyle.
I did not like the abandoned church part of the story. It felt sort of out of place. I could not figure out why there was a need for Laila to experience demonic forces in an abandoned church. It just seemed outlandish that there would be a shoot out at the hotel and James, Connor, and Amos all managed to get away without injury or being caught by the police.
I did like the little boy with the back pack part of the story. Laila’s aborted child being sent to her to help her when see most needed it. The child she never knew being her protective angel.
Amy: You bring up a good point that there were lots of missing elements such as how Laila went from being a model to a prostitute. I feel like there were lots of ideas about Laila’s feelings and not much solid storyline.
And I agree with Lisa that there was almost too much … bad guys, demons, etc.
And call me terrible but I kind of wanted to roll my eyes when I realized Laila had an abortion and that was the thing haunting her most of all. It is, in my opinion, the most overused story element in Christian fiction. And the child showing up bringing healing? A ghost? A positive spirit in the midst of so many negative ones?
Hannah: Amy and Lisa, I can agree that it was veeeeeeerrrrry close to the edge of overkill.
And I, too, Amy, was close to eye-rolling or groaning (well, I may have actually groaned) when the abortion was revealed. In addition to the book toeing the line of overkill, it also came very close to the line of cliché, to the point where I feel sure I know where the story’s headed and I don’t like it. We can be terrible together.
Lisa: Just call us the Terrible Three because I too thought the abortion/little boy spirit was definitely eye roll worthy. I don’t mean in any way to minimize the devastation of post abortive trauma — nor do I think Thrasher intends such — but for it to be couched in such an obvious cliche seems to do just that. Certainly such a sensitive topic can be addressed in the course of a novel apart from feeling overworked and cliched but not so here.
Good point in regard to the holes in Laila’s backstory.
Speaking of cliches, I really liked Kyle’s character though it feels a little cliched to admit such. He is, after all, the stereotypical “good” character. Still, I thought him likable, refreshingly so in comparison to the other characters. What do you guys think?
Hannah: Lisa, I actually liked the little boy spirit aspect of that part of the story. “I don’t mean in any way to minimize the devastation of post abortive trauma — nor do I think Thrasher intends such” — Oh, certainly not, on either count! But it did feel to me like a cop out, at least to a certain extent. I think part of my issue is that the topic *wasn’t* addressed in this novel. It felt thrown in, or like a solution to a pesky plotting problem, rather than the point of the story. On that note, I’m not actually sure what the point of the story was, and this may be my biggest complaint with the book.
I agree, Lisa, that Kyle was well-drawn. We don’t know him deeply, but he somehow avoids coming across as a two-dimensional caricature.
Amy: Kyle was definitely my favorite character.
Thomas: As I thought about what everyone has said so far today, it seems to me that the book was meant to preach to the choir. This goes against what I have been thinking about the last few days. For some reason I did not feel that this book was as much a Christian book, but a suspenseful/thriller book. Even though I have not read a lot of Christian fiction, the books that I have read there seem to be more conversations about God or there is strong symbolism that you know represents God.
Obvious cliches: Alcoholic man haunted by his past, a man who abuses women, sexually active unmarried women haunted by her past sex life, and the good guy.
I wonder if how a individual perceives the abortion part of the story will depend on their personal beliefs about abortion and how it might be brought up Christian literature?
I received this book from the publisher.