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Friday, 19 October 2018

Review: The Way Back From Broken

Rakmen is one of a group of broken people trying to deal with loss and grief during monthly therapy sessions at Promise House. There is also Molly, Rakmen’s soft spot, ten year old Jacey, and her mother Leah who is also Rakmen’s teacher.

Rakmen is racked with guilt, believing he could have saved his baby sister who died in his arms. His parents are on the verge of a break-up. 

To distract himself from dark thoughts, Rakmen copies short notes and headlines from the daily papers into a notebook that he carries everywhere.

He is falling apart. Already flunking high school, he believes nothing worse could happen to him. But it does.

He is forced to join Leah and Jacey on a camping trip beside a lake in Canada. On arrival, they discover Leah’s house is rotted and rat infested. After several serious mishaps, Leah decides to follow a familiar but gruelling camping and rowing trail that she had trekked years ago. Her unspoken intention is that the physical challenge will lessen their grief and destructive sense of loss.

The three set out au large to find the glue to piece themselves together again. Without realizing it, their expedition into the wilds of Canada becomes a journey of restoration and an adventure of a lifetime. They shift into a sense of acceptance as they find out about themselves and each other during the time spent together. Surrounded by the wild beauty of untamed nature, their pain and anger diminishes.

But life isn’t ready to stop shooting arrows at them. When Leah slips and breaks her ankle, Rakmen and Jacey must retain their focus, strength and courage to make the trek back to where they started to get help for Leah, before her food and water runs out. To save time, they must ride the rapids, risking the possibility of tipping and drowning, losing their lives, and Leah’s.

Themes of grief and loss are beautifully portrayed within the desolation of guilt and regret in each of the characters, even the ones that play a smaller but significant role. There is growth and change that ultimately serves to prove that all things pass; that time can replace pain with other things, and that the human spirit is a magnificent power, there to be sourced.

Title: The Way Back From Broken
Author: Amber J. Keyser
Publisher: Walker Books, $19.99
Publication Date: April 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781541514881
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Fiction

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