About Perfectly Broken• Hardcover: 270 pages
Story Plant (March 8, 2016)
His rock star days may be behind him, but stay-at-home dad Grant Kelly's life is getting more interesting by the day. It's the beginning of the post 9/11 era, and he and his wife and four-year-old son have traded a New York City apartment for a Catskills farmhouse, where ghosts from the past, worries for the future, and temptations in the present converge to bring about drastic changes in their marriage, their friendships, and their family. A gorgeously nuanced novel with unforgettable characters, Perfectly Broken is a story of human frailty, the endurance of the heart, and the power and possibility of forgiveness.
“Robert Burke Warren's sensory acumen and keen eye for detail – emotional and physical – make Perfectly Broken a wonderful ride. Fantastic, sharp dialogue and vivid characters, all in a distinctive, captivating voice. A stunning debut novel.” – Rosanne Cash, multi-Grammy winner, author of New York Times bestseller Composed
“Whether writing about music, parenthood, or life in the sticks, every page crackles with been-there-done-that verisimilitude. At turns funny and suspenseful, heartwarming and heartbreaking, Perfectly Broken hits all the right notes, covering fame and fortune, love and death, success and failure, and fatherhood and marriage. A triumphant debut.” - Greg Olear, author of Los Angeles Times bestseller Fathermucker
"Parenthood, adultery, love, lust, ambition, loss, friendships gone to seed, a marriage at the turn of this century in full tilt midlife madness, with rock and roll in the bones and on the soundtrack. Warren creates a sensory world so sharply observed, the experience of reading becomes visceral. It pulled me in and I didn’t want to let go." -- Beverly Donofrio, author, New York Times bestseller
Riding in Cars With Boys
About Robert Burke WarrenRobert Burke Warren is a musician and writer whose work has appeared in Paste, Salon, The Bitter Southerner, The Good Men Project, The Rumpus, The Woodstock Times, Texas Music, Brooklyn Parent, Chronogram, The Weeklings, and the Da Capo anthology, The Show I’ll Never Forget. He lives in the Catskill Mountains with his family. This is his first novel. Find out more about Robert at his blog and connect with him on Facebook.
The oxymoronic title Perfectly Broken is the first thing that intrigued me about this novel. The second is the main character Grant Kelly. Grant is a fantastic husband and father, yet he struggles with anxiety and self-doubt about his parenting skills. He suffered as a child at the hands of selfish, stoic parents, and clearly children are not resilient: Grant is proof of this fallacy (many of the main characters espouse to this lie as they quote this several times in the novel).
The story is told from Grant's point of view, and I almost wonder if he might be "spectrum-ish" because he is very descriptive of how people smell: His friends don't seem to bathe very often. However I appreciate his descriptive observations and internal struggle with his anxiety and self-medication. And in spite of his self-doubt, I trust him as a reliable narrator.
Grant's character as well as the other main characters are very well-developed, and Grant's transformation from beginning to end is nothing short of miraculous. Although Grant is certainly flawed, he's still very likable and I found myself pulling for him the second half of the novel. I must confess that I don't like many of the characters other than Grant and his son, Evan. He's more mature than most of the adults, and I like how he calls out his mother, Beth, on her cursing. There's a lot of cursing in the book (my only complaint). Perhaps that's a literary device Warren uses to enhance the characters' immaturity.
The story maintained my attention, and halfway through I couldn't put it down. I can't imagine living in a post-911 New York City. The setting is very intriguing, especially when the Kellys retreat to a tiny upstate New York hamlet after being evicted from thier rent-controlled Manhattan apartment. Warren is a wonderful storyteller, and I really like his writing style: Warren can write! I think it would make a fantastic movie. ;)
DISCLOSURE: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
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