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Break Paperback – August 25, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Seventeen-year-old Jonah is on a quest to break every bone in his body, and his best friend Naomi is there to film each attempt, as he crashes his skateboard or dives into an empty pool. His 16-year-old brother, Jesse, has deadly food allergies and their parents aren't vigilant about keeping the house safe, so that job has fallen to Jonah, who is weighed down by the responsibility. He breaks his bones so that as he heals he becomes stronger ("It's sort of a natural bionics thing. Break a leg, grow a better leg. Break a body, grow a better body"), a belief treated with almost religious reverence from some, like Naomi (who calls it a "revolution"), but that eventually results in his being institutionalized. Moskowitz, who wrote the story while a high school junior, paces the story well and creates in Jonah a believable and complex protagonist. Love interest Charlotte is one-dimensional, and Naomi strains credulity as she eggs Jonah on. But the brothers' relationship is poignant, and Moskowitz's depiction of Jonah and Jesse's respective traumas-and a family drowning in dysfunction-are viscerally real. Ages 14-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Jonah is determined to break every bone in his body, and to this end he stages accidents that are quite disturbing and painful to read. His friend Naomi encourages him and videos the sickening stunts, which include jumping into an empty 14-foot-deep swimming pool. Jonah's dysfunctional activity stems from family dynamics: parents who argue; an infant brother who wails incessantly for no known reason; and a 16-year-old brother who has life-threatening food allergies that frequently land him in the ER. Jesse is a constant worry for Jonah, who believes his brother is primarily his responsibility. There's plenty of teen angst and drama, but the resolution feels rushed and somewhat implausible. Jonah escapes from a juvenile psychiatric unit with the help of Mackenzie, a teen volunteer at the facility who has access to the isolation unit and knowledge of security codes. Mackenzie is enamored with Jonah's explanation of his self-destructive actions, calling them "adorable." Later that evening Jonah learns that Jesse and Naomi are a couple; this inexplicable union is also crucial to the climax. Despite its shortcomings, the unique, emotional story line may draw in teens who want a quick read and are willing to overlook some of the unlikely plot twists.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416982752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416982753
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hannah Moskowitz wrote her first story, about a kitten named Lilly on the run from cat hunters, for a contest when she was seven years old. It was disqualified for violence. Her first book, BREAK, was on the ALA's 2010 list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. She is a student at The University of Maryland.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Darcy Wishard on September 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Right off I can tell you that this book is not for the faint of heart...more than a few times I found myself skimming through the sections where Jonah describes his many injuries on his path to breaking every bone in his body. On the other hand that is always a sign of great writing when the reader gets such a visual representation of the written word that it causes an actual physical reaction (in other words me getting queasy!)

Jonah has a lot of issues...a brother with deadly (this is no exaggeration) food allergies. I mean the poor guy can basically only drink these special blended drinks and he needs a lifetime supply of Benedryl...a baby brother who cries non-stop day and night and, well, obviously distracted parents. Jonah is constantly stressed out about the health of his brother who seems to be in and out of the hospital with horrible allergy attacks that almost bring him to the brink of death!

With the help of his best friend Naomi, who is filming his "accidents" as some sort of bizarre documentary, Jonah sets out on his goal of breaking bones. Whether its skateboarding or using a hammer...lets just say mission accomplished. He has to get pretty creative when trying to explain the injuries and before too long, he just can't hide it anymore.

I think that most readers will see the significance of Jonah hurting himself soon after something happens that causes more stress or anxiety for him. Most of the time when we think of self-mutilating, we think of girls who cut themselves or as a lot of teens refer to them "cutters". Jonah's story shows us the "macho" side of self-mutilating, which is almost more scary because I think a lot of us might write it off as "boys will be boys" especially in the age of TV shows like Jack Ass and Scarred.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha VINE VOICE on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first picked this book up, I was hooked. Jonah's voice is so fresh and real, and the writing is sharp. His relationship with his brother, Jesse, is heartfelt and strong. In fact, all of the younger characters in this book are very real.

The first two thirds of the story really pulled me in. I was dying to find out why the baby brother, Will, cried so much. I had to know more about Jesse's allergies. And, this question was burning a hole in the back of my mind: what is Jonah going to do to make things better? I happily read the story, unable to put it down, until the big intervention. After that, several instances didn't make sense to me.

*SPOILER ALERT*
-I just couldn't believe that Jonah would willingly remove himself from his home. It was clear that he believed his parents were incompetent, which set off Jesse's allergies constantly. Since Jesse is obviously so important to him, I just can't see him leaving without putting up a serious fight.
-I can't believe Jonah's medical condition would have been overlooked for so long at the rehab center. Or that he'd be thrown into isolation so easily.
-The twist with Naomi threw me for a loop. The whole story was set up such that she liked Jonah - she doesn't like seeing him with Charlotte even though she likes Charlotte, she wears his sweatshirt, she encourages him to break his bones, etc. So I didn't understand why she suddenly went for Jesse.
-I was incredibly disappointed we never found out why Will cried so much. This aspect of the story played such a huge part that it should have gotten a bit more attention in the end.
*END SPOILER ALERT*

Overall, I think my reaction to this story can be boiled down to the characters: the kids vs. the adults.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on October 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Jonah wants to break every bone in his body, because broken bones grow back stronger. His slightly younger brother Jesse is allergic to everything and can practically only eat protein shakes and apples. His baby brother won't stop crying. So Jonah knows it's up to him to be the strong one. He has to take care of Jesse. How can he do a good job though, when he keeps breaking his bones? The answer is, he can't. His self-destruction send him down a bad path and Jonah may be the one who needs the most help.

This was a very interesting story. The concept of someone breaking their bones so that they can be stronger makes no sense to begin with. Ones Jonah explains the whole reason of why he believes it though, it makes more sense...maybe too much sense. Jonah was an okay character, he had a lot of stuff going on though. I'd go a little crazy to if I were in a house with a baby that wails non-stop and a brother who could die just by breathing the same air as milk or eggs. It's a lot of stress and pressure with no relief. It was nice getting to know Jesse too. He didn't let his allergies stop him from excelling at other things, like sports, but he did not want to build up a food tolerance. He had very bad feelings towards food, as I imagine anyone in his position would. I didn't care for Charlotte much. She didn't seem to fit in with the other characters very well. She was sort of just a normal busybody. *shrug* I did like Naomi though. I loved how intense she was when she got into something. She was a little spitfire and a good person. She was a bit destructive though, but she made a lot of good points.

I was really confused on Jonah's whole broken bone theory until closer to the end when he explains it in full.
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