- 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: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
All the Broken Things Paperback – Deckle Edge, Jan 14 2014
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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 Amazon.ca 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.
Top customer reviews
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Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's All the Broken Things is a marvellous piece of historical fiction with fairy tale overtones and a dash of magic realism. That makes it sound a bit precious which it absolutely is not; All the Broken Things doesn't shy from the pain and heartbreak of the characters - the terrible things that happen resonante in a powerful way.
full review at: http://drewrowsome.blogspot.ca/2014/04/the-beauty-of-all-broken-things.html
I instantly liked Bo and thought the author did a very good job of pushing the reader to be sympathetic towards him. Fourteen year old Bo is a very lonely person – he deals with bullying and prejudice on a daily basis, so his home life is mainly made up of his four year old sister, Orange, when their mother is at work. Orange was born severely disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange, a herbicide used during the Vietnam War. The reader witnesses what seems like Bo’s most confusing time of his life and being in his head, reading what he’s observing, is very fascinating. For one, Bo is extremely frustrated at his mother. She’s not home a lot and is trying to adopt a Canadian lifestyle. Bo doesn’t recognize it, but his mother seems to have depression. When she came to Canada, she didn’t expect for her husband to die on the journey and for Orange to be born disfigured – for her, this is shameful to live with. Ultimately, she doesn’t have a positive outlet. This pushes Bo to accept a job in the bear wrestling circuit – if his mother can be home with Orange, all the better for his family.
There was one thing I disliked about Bo: he’s a bit juvenile for his age and I don’t think the author has a complete picture of how a teenager acts. Bo is portrayed as smart and observant; even when he doesn’t understand something, he still gets a good or bad feeling from it. This is an adult book with a fourteen year old protagonist and the one reason it wouldn’t work as a YA book is because the author doesn’t fully believe in Bo the teenager. There were moments when Bo didn’t understand something that I feel a teenager would. Make no mistake, I loved Bo and thought he was a great character, but I question the author’s idea of a teenager.
Kuitenbrouwer illustrates important issues of 1983 Toronto and I found myself in disbelief at the sort of things that were happening. When you learn new things like this, it paints a whole new perspective. There were issues ranging from discrimination and animal abuse re: circus/entertainment to poverty and suicide. The only thing I disliked about this was the author never seemed to focus on just one. When there are issues like these, I feel the author should create a solid discussion and not rely on the reader to start it. I also found troubling the lack of police action and the author doesn’t make clear if this was common in the 80’s.
I loved the relationship between Bo and his bear, Bear. It’s one of those things where you end up wishing for the same (yet different) deeply, connected bond with an animal. Even better, it makes me want to write about such a bond between human and animal (Life of Pi), or animal and animal (Two Brothers, The Lion King). Adding to that, the plot is fantastic and never fails to draw you in. I think I came off more harsh than my rating would suggest, but I really enjoyed this novel. I whole-heartidly believe you can both love a book and question it. Kuitenbrouwer is a beautiful writer and I definitely recommend this book!
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.
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