In the writing world, I am recognized as an author and the owner of a small press. There are few individuals who are aware of my – long-standing – profession, education, and related experience. Briefly, I need to share this with you before reviewing Broken by Angela B. Chrysler.
For over a decade, I have worked in the social services field. I have my graduate degree in social work with minors in psychology and sociology. I have been a behavior specialist in residential treatment, a therapist in child welfare, a supervisor in a psychological ward, and I currently train in areas of abuse/neglect, resiliency, and mental illness. I am also well versed in the areas of human trafficking, the neurobiological impact of trauma, and attachment disorders. In my practice, I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of children and families that have experienced similar scenarios found in Chrysler’s Broken. In reviewing this book, I will be addressing this story through my expertise as a clinician and a practitioner – as a human being – and not as an editor, writer, or publisher.
Broken is raw. Chrysler has done the unthinkable, demonstrating the uncanny ability to capture what most would have no concept of understanding. This story has the complexity of The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy but written with the flow of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is the type of literature that social workers and psychologists are forced to read during their internships to give them some understanding of what atrocities they will face while working in the field. Broken is a memoir, and although haunting, this story gives an intensely, vivid image of how dysfunction within the family can impact children for a lifetime. But, Chrysler does not stop with such a simple message. Instead, through her crafted language, the reader falls helplessly into the main characters struggle to find some sense of safety, of control, and of self. To give a glimpse into this powerful theme, allow me to share a note from the author.
From the Author…
I wrote Broken from 7 March to 20 March. During that time, I relived thirty years of trauma, and Broken records it all: the triggers, the hyperarousal, the breakdowns, and the panic. I explain the rationale behind my behavior and the thoughts I used to justify my behavior in a philosophical discussion with an interviewer. I show you the four worlds in my head where I lived for more than twenty years, as well as the four fictional characters I created in place of the human relationships I lacked. I record the conversations I have with my fictional friends and lovers as they took place.
Broken shows you what trauma is like for some survivors years later before they even realize they have a problem, and what it looks and feels like to emerge from the mental cocoon I lived in for thirty years. It shows the road I took to awareness while going down that road. It shows how I began my recovery.
Broken is not suitable for all audiences. I will reiterate the author’s own warnings with this novel. Broken portrays sensitive subject matters including animal abuse, torture, and graphic sexual violence. There is strong language, drug reference and is not suitable for some audiences. Please proceed with caution. With that being said, readers will find themselves fighting everything within themselves to not scream at the pages. Readers will find realistic dialogue (external and internal) representing the voices of trauma survivors. Readers will be emotionally charged from beginning to end, wondering how such violence can occur in an ‘educated, civilized’ world. This story is life changing, and the Chrysler is unyielding – and courageous – in its delivery.
Broken is worthy of a reward. It should be shared and read among professionals as well as anyone who aspires to be an advocate against child maltreatment, family violence, or societal mayhem. I have already recommended this novel to many colleagues and professors. Help me spread word of her talent.
I received Broken as a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.