Merry Wanderer of the Night + YA

Just Contemporary Review — Break by Hannah Moskowitz

Break by Hannah Mosowitz is a story about a boy who wants to break every bone in his body. It's a goal he is actively working on because he heard once that a broken bone grows back stronger and he needs all the strength he can get right now.

I'm really kinda torn about my feelings for this book. I want to say right now that overall I genuinely liked the book. It's one I would recommend and, for the most part, I found it to be believable with a believable and realistic main character. I really like books from the male POV and this book does a surprisingly good job.

I want to get my few grievances out of the way, before I move on to talk about the rest of the book and what I did like. My main problem with this book was the (IMO) extreme overusage of the f-word. I don't like a lot of profanity and I try not to use much, but the f-word more than any other bothers me. It's ugly sounding and I... well, I just don't like it. But Jonah uses it all the time, and it didn't feel natural. I know that teenagers swear. I promise. I get it. I've heard it, I know. But the cursing in this book didn't feel like natural swearing from a teenager. It sounded like the author intentionally put as much swearing into the book as she possibly could so that she could show the world how edgy and hardcore she is, because Look! I used the f-word. In defense of her writing, what I've seen of the author herself online gives me the same impression so it's probably more a part of her personality than her writing. But still. I didn't like it.

As for the book itself, I was almost completely a fan. There was some of the book that I wish had been more fleshed out. I felt, more than once, that there were important details that were glossed over. Like money — Jonah is constantly breaking his bones and giving himself concussions and all sorts of injuries, which means lots of medical bills. His brother is severely and deathly allergic to everything, and also spends a lot of time in the hospital, and they just had a new baby, which is not cheap. But in all the conversations about why what Jonah is doing is really bad and hurtful, they never once mention the financial strain it must be putting on his parents. Perhaps they are just ridiculously wealthy, but nothing else in the story made me believe that they were, and it would have been nice to see even one paragraph or even sentence mention that. This really is a small thing and I get that. It's why it didn't take away anything from my overall enjoyment of the story. It's just an example of details being glossed over or skipped and I wish there had been just a little more.

But the premise behind the story is very interesting and one that I found myself really captivated by. Jonah pulls stupid stunts all the time and breaking bones becomes his stress relief. Jonah's thoughts leading up to an accident (well, intentional accident) mirrored what I've seen in novels where the main character is a cutter. It's an extreme form of self harm that he has begun to use to give himself some control of his life and emotions. The kid is having a tough time. He's the older brother and he feels like it's his job to look out for and protect his brother. He has taken the weight of the world on his shoulders and it's a severe strain. Poor Jonah. My heart ached for him.

As for side characters — I thought Hannah did a great job giving these people their own personalities and their own blend of troubles. His brother, Jesse, has a really challenging life. He's so allergic to so many things that even touching some of the stuff could kill him. Jonah's best friend, Naomi, is horrid. I hated her. For the most part, she's actually a pretty great friend. But when Jonah hurts himself, she films it and laughs. I get it, at least in the beginning, you are being supportive of your friend and he's going to do it anyway, so you can drive him to the ER and etc. BUT. Later in the story Jonah starts to realize that this isn't healthy, isn't helping and isn't a good idea. So he tells her he's done. And she won't let it go! She hounds him and begs and cajoles him into realizing that he can't just stop. I wanted to punch her in the face.

There is an interesting psychology behind Jonah's reasons for hurting himself (that I'm not going to spoil) and learning more about what Jonah is thinking about was really interesting and definitely made me think. I wish there had been a little more depth and detail to some of the ending and his realizations as well, but overall, it was a strong debut, one that has definitely piqued my interest. Jonah is a strong and compelling character and the strengths of this novel outweigh any weaknesses. If it's one that has interested you at all, I strongly suggest grabbing a copy and giving it a chance.

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Just Contemporary Review — Break by Hannah Moskowitz + YA