Thursday, February 28, 2008

Broken, by Daniel Clay

I really enjoyed Broken. I laughed and I cried. Daniel Clay’s created a roller coaster of a ride in this book. I’ve personally always thought my next-door neighbours are a bit, well, intense. It seems like Daniel took them, relocated them, roughed them up even more, gave them horns and sent them out into the world. They make a starring role as the Oswalds in Broken. They are a family from hell. Nothing can touch them, it seems. The kids run riot, bullying, stealing and intimidating, throwing reckless parties and getting stoned. The dad does all of these things, including beating people up, like teachers and neighbours.

On the other hand we have a very shy young man, Rick Buckley who becomes the Broken in the title. Because of an accusation from one of the Oswald girls, he snaps in a very tragic and heartbreaking way. He becomes a recluse. And this is only the start of his and everyone else’s nightmare.

Watching all of this, is Skunk Cunningham. Who is a very endearing and genuine heroine. The book opens with her in a coma…and slowly but surely she teases the story out and you can’t help but fall straight into it.

Broken is written in an intelligent and hyper-real way. No matter where you live, who you are, or what you do, you will find reflections of your own life in here. The style is very easy to read. Once you realise exactly what is happening, you feel helpless and have to sit it through, watching the inevitable onrushing train and desperately hoping that you can bail out.

Daniel Clay has a tremendous talent. He strings the reader along expertly and introduces the characters, their motivations and aspirations clearly. It becomes a bit of a fly on the wall documentary on everyday people’s lives. It looks at relationships, the society we live in and makes interesting comments and observations about everyday mundane happenings that never occur to you to think about twice.

I really recommend this book. If, for instance, you liked The Lovely Bones, you will love this. I hate comparing books to one another, to be honest, but because this is a book that deserves to be read widely, you will have to somehow encourage the existing audience to do so. It is much funnier than The Lovely Bones, it is very British and very much what is happening today.

I will definitely not just recommend this book to friends, but will probably also be the one buying it for them for presents.

Good luck Daniel – you genuinely deserve the recognition your hard work has garnered you.