Sunday, 10 June 2012

Broken


Broken Broken by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Angus Gomes (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 19.95
ISBN 9781921529887
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This book is remarkably clever and powerful in its structure. The style of the text changes as the character Zara shifts her thoughts and this device is used very effectively in several other areas within the prose. It is full of metaphors and strong messages on the power of love, and the ability of humans to change, regardless of the occurrences in their life.

Zara sees and hears from the silent world of a coma unaware that her brother Jem with whom she has a very strong bond, has died in the accident that damaged her, after swerving to avoid hitting a toddler.

While the family is supportive and encouraging, sharing their life and happenings with her to prevent her floating into nothingness, none of these conversations are enough to draw her back. Zara’s mind is totally preoccupied with finding Jem whom she believes is trapped inside his comic book collection, which meant everything to him.

In her mind, Zara travels in and out of situations searching corridors and chasing Jem’s comic book hero in an attempt to trace the whereabouts of her lost brother. These scenes are brilliantly accompanied by black and white comic book illustrations which reinforce the strength that is keeping Zara from relinquishing her hold on life.

Her best friend, the Gothic looking Trace, is her strongest lifeline. While Zara is distanced from reality and hears each person’s voice but is unable to respond, Trace is experiencing a metamorphosis. She shares this amazing journey with Zara on a daily basis, and through this, the reader also shares the thoughts of both girls during the process. Trace’s crazy and unhappy life at home evaporate under the change creeping into her life.

But although the comic captions and illustrations lend the story another dimension, it’s the tantalizing thread of a past horror in Zara’s childhood that propels the reader forward to learn what and how.

This superbly crafted novel is extraordinary in that there is so much to admire about it. The main characters and their stories are outstanding. It also has a beguiling cover that would entice you to buy it just on its merit alone. The book comes highly recommended.

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