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All the Broken Things Paperback – Deckle Edge, Jan 14 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada (Jan. 14 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345813529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345813527
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #76,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


FINALIST 2015 – Toronto Book Award

All the Broken Things is a strange, beautiful novel about the fundamental human need to be seen and to be loved. Kuitenbrouwer’s Bear Boy, Bo, is an unforgettable creation—a true survivor who carries within him both the poison of war and its antidote. His creator is a fearless writer: she considers the full spectrum of human nature—from the monstrous to the wondrous—with a clear gaze and a capacious heart.” 
—Alissa York, author of Effigy and Fauna

All the Broken Things enchanted me, opened my eyes, broke my heart, made me wonder, left me changed. Kuitenbrouwer has told a remarkable story that explores the tenuous thresholds between illusion and reality, myth and history, monstrosity and beauty. This is a truly magical and important book.”
—Jessica Grant, author of Come, Thou Tortoise

All the Broken Things is a dreamy, tender elegy to human failure and imperfection.”
—Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness and Irma Voth

About the Author

KATHRYN KUITENBROUWER is the author of the novels Perfecting and The Nettle Spinner, which was a finalist for the First Novel Award, and the short-story collection Way Up, which won the Danuta Gleed Award and was a finalist for the ReLit Award. Kuitenbrouwer's short fiction has been published in Granta, The Walrus, Numéro Cinq, Joyland and Storyville. She is an award-winning instructor with the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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By Christa Seeley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Feb. 7 2014
Format: Paperback
When I was younger my family had a cottage out near Westport Ontario. On the road to the cottage there was a house that had a large cage out in it’s side yard. My mom used to regale us with stories of the bear they kept there. His name was Tony and they used to stop by in the summer to see him and feed him treats. I was too young to have ever met Tony the Bear but I’ve heard so many stories I feel like he was a part of my life too. So all throughout reading All the Broken Things I secretly imagined “Bear,” the young cub Bo trains, was inspired by Tony, which made me fall even more in love with the book then I would have anyway.

But even if you don’t have a random pet bear story from your childhood I think you’ll love this book. It’s a heart warming story about a boy trying to survive despite the odds. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Bo. When he was younger he came over to Canada with his parents from Vietnam, unfortunately his father didn’t make the trip. Now in Canada he has to balance the regular pressures of being a kid with an alcoholic (and slightly agoraphobic) mother and his little sister, Orange, who was born with some pretty serious birth defects because of Agent Orange. His coping mechanism for all these? To get into almost daily fights with another boy from school.

Bo is a fighter both literally and figuratively. He does what he needs to in order to survive. When a local carnival man, Gerry, see’s him fight he asks Bo to come wrestle bears for him. Now I think most kids would run in the opposite direction from an offer like that, but Bo see’s it for the opportunity it is – not just to make money, but also to have a place where he belongs. His situation gets a lot worse before it gets better but he keeps fighting all the way through.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the way this book weaves magic seamlessly into everyday life. A refugee boy raises a bear cub right in the city, and then runs away to join the circus (well, the Canadian National Exhibition). I was completely sucked into the story and never questioned how “real” some of the details were until I finished the book and regretfully had to leave its enchanted, wild world. The story tackles fairly heavy themes (e.g., Vietnam war, Agent Orange) but isn’t depressing because of Bo’s teenage viewpoint and his straightforward way of dealing with things. The book is also truly beautifully written. Often, I found myself reading a particular sentence over again, just enjoying the way this author puts words together.
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By Lorina Stephens TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Feb. 7 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
I was very much minded of Rohinton Mistry's novels when reading Kuitenbrower's All the Broken Things, albeit we've changed from writing about the tragedies of India's people to the tragedy of Canada's.

In this case Kuitenbrower tells a deftly-crafted tale of a Vietnamese mother, son and daughter who are refugees just after the infamous civil war that ravaged their country. Not only are they victims of the war, but of that deadly and devastating chemical known as Agent Orange, large quantities of which were produced in Grimsby, Ontario, by Uniroyal.

The story centres around the boy, Bo, who attempts to find the strength and compassion to not only deal with his mother who is rapidly sinking into depression, extreme poverty and the effects of Agent Orange, but his sister who was born grotesquely deformed because of the chemical.

It is also a story about freaks and misfits who find a home in the carnivals and sideshows that toured southern Ontario, and were featured at the Canadian National Exhibition.

So it is a story about broken people, broken in body and spirit. It is a story about broken morality. Broken promises. Broken trust.

And it is utterly, completely mesmerizing in the simplicity and beauty of Kuitenbrower's phrasing and story-telling ability.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I was swept away by the tenderness in this book and its characters have stayed with me long after I finished reading. I thought the author did an excellent job creating characters that were believable, and whose conflicts, tensions and relationships with each other were handled with clear-cut honesty and sensitivity. Beautifully written, the story takes place following the Vietnam War and the devastating consequences of Agent Orange, and is set in Toronto with its network of parks and ravines, the CNE and the Carnival years of the Freak Show and Bear Wrestling events. The author sheds light on the difficulties of the immigrant experience in Canada, and the challenges of disability within the family and broader community. The main character Bo is brave and noble but is also a real boy, and a real survivor. I loved that the overall tone of the book was hopeful, and that there is help given to Bo and his disabled sister Orange by Bo's Teacher and classmate Emily. While Bo and his bear are the main characters, I found that the part of the story that meant the most to me was about Orange. I appreciated that her disabilities were shown in fullness - horror and beauty, guilt and protectiveness. The author delivers a message that even profoundly disabled individuals can learn, and that every human being no matter their condition, can make a positive impact on the world around them, can bring out the best in others, and is deserving of love.
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