Sometimes you can’t see how something works until it breaks, and you can’t see that it’s broken unless you compare it to something that isn’t. In Little Broken Things, while Liz plans one of her classic summer parties, whose standard can’t be beat in Key Lake, Minnesota, her two daughters’ lives unravel at the seams.
Quinn is unemployed and not pregnant, living in one of her mother’s rental homes with Walker, her artist husband, gorgeous but also unemployed. Nora resides in Rochester, AWOL to her own family, barely making ends meet while trying to keep her best friend’s life intact. But Nora’s surprise text to Quinn, “I have something for you,” sets events in motion that bring the two sisters and their mom together in unexpected and traumatic ways. The “something” is a 6-year-old girl, and with the help of friends, each woman faces not only this fragile child but also skeletons in her own closet. Does a mended family work better than before it was broken?
Call it a mystery, a love story or a drama, Nicole Baart’s cleverly spun tale has enough suspense and intrigue to keep any variety of reader engaged. Her characters are as real as we are, homegrown and colorful, tight-lipped as well as passionate. Each chapter, save a few, builds the story from the point of view of the character for which it is named. These “little broken things,” fractured further by this latest burden to bear, are made whole in chapters with no heading. In these sections, something looms larger than any of them—a spirit embodied by a central but enigmatic figure who gives this story depth.
While at times the story reads like the soap opera Liz claims her life is becoming, these events are not to be taken lightly, and the consequences could be dire. You won’t lose with this read.