Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, July 26, 2014

Plot Summary:
After three of years of pain and suffering, Scarlet is now well enough to attend public school for the first time in years. The problem with this new adventure is that she is entering high as book, which, by no means, is going to be a cake walk for the girl who almost died, twice. Although Scarlet is forced to carry around an AED monitor (named Phil), one would expect people to be a little sympathetic to her situation. Unfortunately, the moment she stepped into the hall she is accosted by a bully and hundreds of stares. In this high school, if one stands out, not in the "normal" way, you are a loser and a freak. Scarlet trudged through her day the best she can, but knowing that her heart may give out at any time worries her. What Her peers don't know is that she has a rare genetic disease called Long QT Syndrome where her heart spins out of control and she could drop dead at any moment. The reason why Scarlet is attending high school because she has no idea if she will be tomorrow.What should have been a smooth transition, turns out of control when Mitch Kowlasky decides to bully her, especially when he finds out that she is befriend by Celina, Jordan, Nessa, and Tony. As part of her introduction, Scarlet is part of PMS (Peer Mentoring Support) where teens with problems come together to find healthy solution. Unfortunately, this group becomes the prime target for Mitch and his goons, but Scarlet does the unthinkable: she actually humiliates the bully himself. Granted, people started noticing her more (and admire her for it), but the bullying gets worse. When Celina unexpectedly "falls down the stairs," Scarlet and Tony stop by her house to check up on her, which opens a flood gate where Scarlet's overprotective mother threatens to call child services and forbids Scarlet to go back to school. In order to keep the life she has fallen in love with, Scarlet makes a deal that will allow her to better manage her illness, but then she makes a shocking discovery that will turn her entire world upside down. I didn't see this one coming and neither will you!

Critical Evaluation:
I could not believe the twist this story took! I was seriously expecting a dramatic tale of girl wanting nothing more than to live her last moments on Earth by falling in love and being with the people she cares about. I really thought that the countdown was about Scarlet's life expectancy dwindling, but, alas I WAS WRONG! WOW! C.J. Lyon's is one heck of a storyteller because when we thought we get a sad story about teenage love and loss, we get a murder mystery/thriller as well! Along with Scarlet's heart-breaking tale, readers also learn about her friends' life stories which are equally tragic. Lyons does an amazing job exposing readers to a variety of situations that are not only humbling, but very real. For example, Nessa is dealing with her sister's suicide by self-medicating herself; Celine is trying to care for her severely autistic sister while her mother is dying of cancer; Jordan is dealing with a lot of guilt, which forces him become overprotective. Lastly, for Tony, he lost his father long ago and it's always been him and his mom. There is so much readers can learn from these teens because, at the end of the day, they had to force themselves to be brave and deal with the consequences the best they could. Fortunately, for the bully, Mitch, is Scarlet hadn't done what she did, he may not be alive. This story is definitely an eye-opener for those who have no idea what some of their peers are dealing with and I hope they learned a lot of things from this story. Again, I was not anticipating the ending of this story, I am very satisfied that Scarlet was able to take control with her life and have the courage to remain in her home despite everything that has happened. There is a great Q&A section with the author and valuable tips for teens.

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.
CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).
She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.
A story-teller all her life, CJ has always created stories about people discovering the courage to make a difference. This led her to coin the term: Thrillers with Heart.
CJ has taught numerous live and online workshops as well as given keynote speeches to audiences around the world, including: The London Book Fair, The Frankfurt Book Fair, MWA, RWA, Romantic Times, Oklahoma Writer Federation, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and PennWriters among others. She was also the conference chairperson for the highly successful inaugural ITW ThrillerFest.
Her novels have won the International Thriller Writers prestigious Thriller Award, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Golden Gateway, Readers’ Choice Award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

Genre:
Teen Issues, Teen Fiction, Teen Mysteries, Teen Thrillers

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Broken:

Awards & Recognition:From Amazon.com

"[A] suspenseful thriller laced with medical intrigue and coming-of-age triumph. " - Booklist

"A chilling medical suspense story-Lyons' specialty-expertly entwines with teen-oriented family drama and the eye-rolling social hierarchy that is high school...Not just for teens, Broken effectively addresses many modern issues, including bullying and the pediatric healthcare system. " - RT Book Reviews

""Lyons dives deep into the human soul... Her three dimensional characters resonate with readers long after the final page." --RT BookReviews, on Black Sheep " - RT Book Reviews

"CJ Lyons' new YA novel, Broken, heralds a strong new female protagonist whose history counters the challenges and mysteries ahead. Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak meets Kathy Reichs' Virals. " - Jill Moore, Square Books, Jr., Oxford, MS

"Broken is an intense page-turner. Readers will race to the end to see if Scarlet will uncover the truth about herself and those around her before it's too late." - April Henry, New York Times Bestselling Author

""[A] fast-paced thriller" with a "I-totally-didn't-see-it-coming ending."" - Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life

""The concept of this book is an interesting and fresh one," and promises that readers "will be happy they kept reading." " - VOYA

""Scarlet is a likable character, smart and savvy, sheltered and innocent. Her friends and enemies are well drawn and the tension feels real . . . Readers who enjoy surprise revelations as in Matt de la Peña's I Will Save You will appreciate the twist here." " - School Library Journal

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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