In Broken Places is the latest novel by Michele Phoenix. Born in France to an American mother and a Canadian father, Michele Phoenix is an international writer with multi-cultural sensitivities. A graduate of Wheaton College, she taught writing, music, and theater at the boarding school for missionaries’ children she attended as a teenager. She currently works for Global Outreach Mission as an advocate for Third Culture Kids (TCKs), helping them transition back into North American culture and educating stateside churches and missions about the special needs of this people group. Michele lives in Wheaton, Illinois.
About this book: Shelby’s life isn’t glamorous, but it is predictable—and that’s the way she likes it. A survivor of her father’s violence, she has spent a lifetime creating a safe existence devoid of dependence. But her carefully managed world begins to break when, under staggering circumstances, she becomes a single mother to four-year-old Shayla. In a drastic attempt to escape her childhood’s influence, Shelby moves to Germany, but she quickly discovers how intimately linked memory and healing are—and how honestly she must scrutinize her past in order to aspire to a richer future. As she juggles a new job, a new culture, a new daughter, and the attention of an enterprising man, Shelby’s fresh start becomes a quest for the courage to be not only a survivor, but someone who prevails.
Judge this book by its cover? I liked it.
Reminds me of…Susan Meissner, Lisa Wingate
Why did I read this book? I received it from Tyndale for review
Would I read another by this author? If the premise intrigued me, yes.
My take: Shelby possesses a pert voice, which after a time I found a bit wearing–but on the other hand, I believe that was the point. To protect herself from potentially painful relationships, Shelby has learned to hide behind snappy conversation–which demonstrates how harmful our devices of self-protection can become.
Overall, I felt the story could have used more layers of tension and suspense. The main suspenseful element at the start of the book was the question of Shayla’s father’s identity, what he meant to Shelby, and why adopting Shayla was such an onerous situation for Shelby. Once those questions were answered (within the first quarter of the book), I could guess how the rest of the story would unfold. And I was pretty much right, although I will say the author pulled off a particularly lovely last line.
However, I do love the heart of this story, the premise that restoration can spring from brokenness. With vivid flashbacks, in a unique setting, In Broken Places shows the devastating effects of child abuse, how those scars are not left behind in childhood but carried forward into life. That among the worst of its ravaging effects is a child-turned-adult’s inability to accept that she (or he) is lovely and lovable.
But In Broken Places reveals what can happen when brokenness confronts hope.
Thanks to Tyndale for providing me a copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Visit Michele online at michelephoenix.com. And stay tuned–on Wednesday, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of this very multi-faceted writer.