The Broken One by Christine Bailey
Genre: Contemporary YA
The Broken One. Sixteen-year-old Farris Sloan is picking up the pieces after the untimely death of her best friend Kelsey. But even one year later, Farris can’t seem to find “normal” again—not until Lane Evans pops back into her life and pushes her to face reality. When he offers her the chance to find out the truth about Kelsey’s death, Farris fears what will surface. Is it too much too soon or just what she needs to move forward? The Broken One explores a teen’s struggle to overcome loss and her hope to rediscover what it truly means to live and love.
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I turned onto Miller Street, a dead-end road with only one turnoff, which led into Kelsey’s neighborhood. I immediately spotted flashing blue lights ahead in the distance, up the hill at the dead-end. An unexplainable force pulled me toward the mesmerizing lights that danced against the overcast sky. I didn’t think—I just sped off past the wall of trees that edged the front of Kelsey’s upscale neighborhood and passed right by the turn onto her street. My legs burned as I fought my way uphill. At first, I ran as fast as I could, but the closer I got to the lights, the farther off they seemed to be and the slower I moved.
When I finally made it to the top of the hill, I stopped and stood a few yards away from a fire truck and police SUV that, together, formed a barricade. It was all a blur—a blur of uniforms, colliding voices, rumbling engines, and emergency dispatchers echoing from radios. In all the chaos, I managed to slip between the two vehicles unnoticed, like a ghost.
At first, I only saw the yellow police tape. Then I spotted the back of Kelsey’s two-door hatchback with its “Stay Weird” bumper sticker. Beyond the silver car, I saw the guardrail Kelsey and I had dented two years ago in her dad’s golf cart. My eyes narrowed in on the dulled metal, pulling me in like a magnet.
I moved closer, marching to the loud drumming in my ears, and only stopped when my legs hit the rail. I gripped the cool metal and looked down over the steep ravine, watching a few small rocks tumble down the side. I blinked a couple of times, trying to focus on the activity down below where even more uniformed officers stood. Then I saw it. “No,” I whispered. “No.”
All of a sudden, I felt someone pulling me from behind and fell onto the pavement, hitting the side of my head on the way down. Slowly opening my eyes, I caught a blurry glimpse of the officer who had taken me down. He asked me if I was okay, and I nodded, shutting my eyes again.
Flashes of the silver car I’d been in a million times flew by in my mind, spliced in with another image—of the body I’d just seen at the bottom of the ravine. I kept seeing it over and over like a trailer for the latest horror movie. But it wasn’t some actress in a film. It was my best friend’s lifeless body at the bottom of that rocky cliff. The stark image taunted me: large, jagged boulders breaking out from a coating of pure white snow forever marked with her blood—her body, splayed across them, crooked and broken.
When I began this book, I was expecting it to center around Kelsey’s mysterious death, but it is actually about how her best friend, Farris, deals with the sudden loss and unresolved grief. Like most teens, Farris cannot see past the immediate circumstances, and she is nowhere near the closure she needs to move past the loss. Her depression and fixation on Kelsey’s death makes Farris hard to be around, and soon her friends can no longer put up with her personality.
Before Kelsey’s death, Farris had a huge crush on a boy named Lane, and he returns to town with information that can help Farris heal. The need for answers brings Farris back from the dark minset she’s had since losing Kelsey. This is a quick read with an authentic depiction of grief and depression. I enjoyed the storytelling and writing style of the “new to me” author, and her secondary characters stole the scenes they were in. I had hoped for more resolutions to the mystery, but part of “letting it go,” is being okay with not having all the answers.
Christine H. Bailey teaches creative writing and written composition at a private university in Tennessee. Before teaching English, Bailey worked as a journalist, a marketing/public relations writer, and a freelance editor. Girl in the Middle is Bailey’s debut novel that takes a look at the aftermath of a family crisis and what happens to a family when a child goes missing. The book also touches on the hierarchical nature of high school. Bailey’s third YA novel (April 2016), The Broken One, deals with love, loss, and a beautiful awakening after a tragedy. Bailey is currently working on her fourth YA novel. Bailey, a native Canadian, is also a blogger, teacher, speaker, and mom of two !
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