Thursday, July 12, 2007

Broken by Megan Hart

I just finished Broken by Megan Hart. As with Hart’s first book, Dirty, I’d label this one a profound read that held no punches. Another brutally honest heroine that a small part of me wishes I hadn’t accompanied. That is the trouble with first person I think. It either misses its mark entirely, subjecting readers to distracting and gratuitous inner monologue, or it cuts right to the bone with razor sharp truthfulness. I’d put Linda Howard’s Drop Dead Gorgeous in the first category and Hart’s work in the second.

For me, Hart’s narrative is beyond compelling. She manages to draw readers into her heroine’s psyche and keep them there through a never-ending barrage of emotional confessions. Confessions delivered without prelude, some still rough and unvarnished, others with the sharp clarity of cut diamonds. Both with the power to wound. And still, we remain attached to the narrator, unable to judge or condemn. Therein lies Hart’s greatest talent.

Moral issues and questions aside, her characters suffer feelings we all recognize, legitimate hurts that speak to our own. And because Hart deftly avoids using those feelings to justify questionable actions, her characters appeal rather than repulse.

The upside is a moving read, one that stays with you long after you shelve the book. The downside is that Hart’s moments of truth can hit too close to home, startling emotions out of the reader that, in some cases, are better left dormant. I’d hazard a guess that everyone who says they cried through this book found one or more of those moments. I did.

The first was the scene of her massage—when she was overcome by the realization that no one touches her anymore. It brought to mind the latter months of my pregnancy, when everywhere I went folks pampered and fussed. Bestowing kindnesses that contrasted sharply with the emotional and verbal cruelty I was experiencing within the walls of my own home. After reading Broken, I resumed the task of preparing to move from said home. When cleaning out my medicine cabinet, I found a bottle of scented lotion I used religiously throughout my pregnancy. I threw it, and the last of my unwillingness to remember that time, in the garbage.

The next was Sadie’s belief that she had lost herself to her marriage, her husband and the events that shape their lives. I imagine there are quite a few women who will admit to feeling the same way, like they’ve forsaken their own needs for those of their partners and children. Same here. That medicine cabinet also held a couple of bottles of cheap perfume, reminding me that I gave up my $100-a-bottle scent years ago. In the name of saving money I think. An extravagance enjoyed by single women, not married folk with mortgages. A relatively small item, true, but still an indication of my blind acceptance of someone else’s priorities over my own. Threw those away too.

Finally, Hart acknowledged a truth that should probably have been accompanied by trumpets. “I know you can’t be lost if you know where you are.” Speaks for itself, doesn’t it? And begs the question, are you where you want to be? A bit more difficult than tossing old scents, but a worthy challenge nonetheless.


  1. Fan-fucking-tastic book, and fan-fucking-tastic review of it. You hit Megan Hart's style dead on. I really, really love the fact that she pushes the reader to the limit and sometimes beyond. And even though her next one Tempting is something that I look at and feel uneasy, you just know I'm going to be reading it to see where Ms. Hart takes me next.

  2. Anne pointed me over here and I wanted to say thank you for reading Broken and the review, too.

    I find it so interesting how different readers are pulling such different things out of the book. Some I intended. Most I didn't. I mean, I didn't write the book as a moral commentary on casual sex, or infidelity, or anything like that -- I didn't write it to make people cry -- I didn't write it to do anything but tell the story I had in my head about a woman and a man and a park bench.

    Broken turned out to be way, way more than I ever expected it to be, and I am so pleased that so many people are finding such different messages in it. It's the best compliment a writer can have, I think, if a book makes the reader think and contemplate.

    So, thank you, thank you, for reading and reviewing Broken. I appreciate the time you took.

    And PS, ANNE...Tempted is going to make a lot of people uneasy. I think I should start promoting Tempted now with "it's going to make you uneasy." I mean, it won't make everyone uneasy, but it's most definitely NOT a traditional romance (though I've said that about Dirty and Broken, too and some people call them romances. Which is fine by me!).

    The most I can hope for from Tempted is that it makes people think and examine the way Dirty and Broken seem to -- I'll say right here that there's a part in Tempted that made my stomach sick to write and makes it churn to read now. Tempted was pretty personal for me. And because of that, it's probably my favorite of the three. Yet I know that some are not going to like it because it's not all tied up in a pretty bow, and it is about people making choices that might be considered "bad."

    Anyway, I'm babbling a bit. I think I'm getting a rep for books that are hard to read and make people sick and feel like they've been punched and make people cry. I'm sorry. :( I'm really a nice person in real life, I promise.

    Spread the word: Tempted isn't going to be an easy, light read any more than Dirty or Broken were. But the book after that should be a lot more "fun." HAHAHA!

    Again, thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it, truly. ANd thanks for letting me babble on and on....


  3. RIght on! I LOVED this book. I'm still thinking about it almost every day. It touched me deeply.

    I had 2 people tell me that they bought 'Broken' after they read my review, and I can't wait to see what they think of it. I can't even express how fucking awesome this book is.

  4. Jennifer, I have to echo Anne here and say 'bravo' on such a good review. You really captured the reading experience.

    And, to Ms. Hart, I just hope she keeps writing about women we care about and books that make us think about our lives.

  5. Thank you Anne! And thank you so much for turning me on to Megan Hart's books.

    Thank you Megan for taking the time to comment here. Woohoo! It must be difficult to balance reader feedback with your writing goals, without taking on too much of the personal responsibility readers might put on you. Just know that we will remain happy--and thrilled--for you to just keep telling your stories. However uneasy a storyline might feel, we'll welcome it. You've such a powerful voice and style. Thanks again!

    Hi Chantal! I agree with them--your review was compelling. I hope they love as much as we did.

    And thank you Rosie! I appreciate the kind words--especially for those reviews that matter as much to me as this one did.

  6. Jennifer, I'm just glad someone's reading the books and liking them!



  7. I'm reading Dirty at the moment and have Broken on my TBR pile. I'm finding that it's (Dirty) is a book I have to be in the right frame of mind to read - unlike other books that I can put down and pick up whenever.

    I very much enjoy (maybe that's the wrong word) the way Megan Hart writes so I am looking forward to reading Broken.

    Haven't heard anything about Tempted yet - I've seen the cover and that's about it. So am intrigued to know what the story is about.

  8. All right, all right. I'll do it. I'll put aside the first person. Gulp. Maybe I'll put it on my TBR list for my UK trip.

  9. Lori, you will find her a powerful voice. Trust me.

    Lesley, I understand what you mean about needing the right mindframe. But I found that, regardless of mindset, I was so drawn in that I couldn't put Dirty or Broken down. Compelling is a good word, and delivered with a forthrightness (word?) that plows down reader's quirks/hesitation.

    And we're definitely liking them Megan!

  10. Lori, I was worried about it being in first person, too. Usually I can only enjoy first if it's a comical book.

    It worked out really well though.

  11. I've never read anything by this author, but your review has intrigued me! I think I'll check this out. Thanks for the rec.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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