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Unbroken [Kindle Edition]

Jamie Lisa Forbes
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Ranching is a life of extremes, perhaps even more so on the high plains near Laramie, Wyoming. And no one knows that better than Gwen Swan, who married both her husband Will and his family ranch where she works hard beside the men and struggles to raise her two children.

Meg Braeburn, who has broken away from her family's ranch, expects unrelenting hard work when she takes a job on the place neighboring the Swans'. She and her son face an uncertain future, but she is determined to leave the past behind and make a good life for them. Gwen, who
understands the corrosive effects of isolation better than Meg, includes Meg in her family and community and wins Meg's gratitude and support.

But there is little time for reflection on anyone’s part as the wheel of the seasons grinds relentlessly onward bringing disasters and triumphs and a rough road for all concerned. The prodigal Swan son returns and relationships shift, old resentments resurface and friendships are strained and tested as everyone finds themselves struggling against the elements and each other to continue their way of life.

In this remarkable novel the author presents us with fully formed characters that ring as clear and true as the picture of ranch life she paints as a background for the universal struggles we all confront.


Product Details

  • File Size: 501 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Pronghorn Press (April 26, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Y6EDPO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,596 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
(21)
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Harsh ranching life is the centerpiece for UNBROKEN, a portrait of the daily struggles on the high plains of Wyoming. We first meet Gwen Swan, and from her perspective, see the back-breaking work of minding the home, the children, and helping on the ranch. Day in and day out, her world, along with that of her husband, Will, and father-in-law, John, revolves around the seasons and the tasks that must be completed.

I love this excerpt, which illustrates some of the struggle:

"As she washed the lunch dishes, it began. A rattling in the highest branches of the cottonwoods. A hissing in the tall grass along the riverbank. And in seconds, the wind was in full roar, shaking the trees with a fury. Gusts smacked the house in waves. From somewhere--where did that sound come from?--came the high whistling shriek.

"Gwen dried her hands and went to the living room window. Out in the meadow where they'd fed cows that morning, the wind wasn't driving much snow. Just the dry loose powder across the top. No more drifting snow--until the next storm.

"But that sound. It could go on forever."

Nearby on a neighboring ranch, alcoholic rancher Mather has hired a young single mom, Meg Braeburn. Years before, she fled her family home to be with her boyfriend, whom she married. But when the marriage fractures, she and her young son Jim must start over. She believes that ranching is in her blood, and despite the grueling workload, she seems to thrive on it.

We alternately see the brutality, the isolation, and the invigorating achievements of this life through the viewpoints of Gwen, Will, John, Meg, and each of the children.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbroken: An award-winning novel January 16, 2012
Format:Paperback
Jamie Lisa Forbes' debut novel, Unbroken, is a WILLA Award recipient and worthy of this prestigious honor.

Gwen Swan's life is an unbroken chain of cooking, helping her husband on their family cattle ranch, managing their children, Rory and McKenna, juggling finances, and working through Wyoming's harsh winters and sweltering summers with seemingly few days of reprieve between seasons. Gwen's hard-working husband Will centers his life around the ranch. His father John, a widower for most of Gwen and Will's married life, lives in his own house, but takes his meals with his son's family. John still calls most of the shots on the daily ranch activities. Will occasionally takes his own initiative, but when he does his father can be counted on to share his opinion.

It's up to Gwen to deal with her son's teachers and their disapproval of Rory's behavior at school. When Will becomes aware of Rory's trouble at home, his impatience is obvious, but Rory's grandfather helps smooth over hurt feelings. Rory especially basks in his grandfather's love.

Will's brother, long estranged from the family, appears and old bitterness and resentments resurface, further straining their lives.

Meg Braeburn and her young son Tim have broken away from her family's ranch. She's made mistakes but is determined to make a good life for them. She's hired as a hand on a ranch neighboring Swan's. The absent owner leaves all the work to her, with a stringy, unkept horse, rusty equipment and unrealistic expectations. Meg surprises them all with her ability and drive, and her resoluteness.

Before long Gwen and Meg become friends, their children play, though Rory often bullies Jim. The ranchers support and help one another with time, equipment and friendship.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read July 19, 2010
Format:Paperback
What a thoroughly absorbing and entertaining story, told by a first time author! I was impressed on so many levels. The story itself held interest, the manner in which it was told and the descriptions of a life few of us know about as well as the pace and timing of the story, were done with the flare of a far more experienced author. This book should appeal to both men, women, adult and teen. An especially good summer read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Unbroken is author Jamie Lisa Forbes debut novel portraying ranch life in Wyoming and all the hardships families go through. The harsh Wyoming winter serves as the perfect backdrop for this story about farm life, family, friendship and heartache.

Wife and mother Gwen Swan is so absorbed with her family life and her daily chores, she really has little time for anything else. She and her husband Will work the farm, along with Will's father, John.

"The worst thing that can happen to you, Meg Braeburn, is to watch your dreams come true and then reckon with how shallow they were all along."
p.77, Unbroken

Single mom Meg Braeburn becomes a farmhand to support herself and her young son. She works on a neighboring farm that is owned by an alcoholic rancher named Mather. Mather pays her little and really doesn't care much for her safety but Meg weathers the worse of it and proves herself over and over. Gwen and Meg form a bond and find a much needed friendship.

We see the story mainly through the eyes of Gwen, Will, Meg and John as well as their children. There is plenty of struggle in this story as these characters survive as best as they can. Will's long lost brother shows up and this stirs up old resentments.

Heartache and pain play a role in the plot, but so do hope and strength.
Meg wonders if she is a good person, and struggles with being a single mom as well with what the townspeople think of her living on her own doing what is usually a man's job. She left home years ago with her husband, who is now incarcerated. Meg often wonders what would happen if she returned to her father's home and asked for his help.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner
Jamie Lisa Forbes has a great capacity for story telling and a deep understanding of ranch living. I was fascinated by the details and her characters will long live in my memory. Read more
Published 9 months ago by EccentricGran
4.0 out of 5 stars I got lost in the story and the description of the land.
I recommend the book. The author really brings out the beauty of the land and the strength of the people who live on it.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, interesting, though flawed
I really enjoyed this novel about a family and others making livelihoods cattle ranching in Wyoming over the course of 10 years or so. Read more
Published 17 months ago by deanie1
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbroken
A good story that kept me reading and reading. The author knows how tough ranching life can be and the relationships strained by this life.
Published 19 months ago by goat lady
5.0 out of 5 stars should be book of the year
I really enjoyed this book Great time period Great story one book that wll make you think how lucky we are to have guy's like him to serve in world war II
Published 19 months ago by Tom Sparks
4.0 out of 5 stars Wyoming cattle ranching
My family has ranched and raised Angus beef cattle for generations, in Arkansas. But my mother married an employee of what is now ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco &Firearms) and I wound up... Read more
Published 20 months ago by J. A. Gild
4.0 out of 5 stars An honest and human portrayal of ranch life from a woman's...
I enjoyed the blend of daily ranch life and the emotional journies of the characters. The detail of the work on the ranches was informed, and the people were well developed,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Janice Woodman
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of survival.
A true story of an accomplished olympian who faced incredible cruelty at the hands of the Japanese during World War II. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Lordgrizly
5.0 out of 5 stars Never wanted it to end! Amazing book!
In my opinion it had a slow start, but then it good--REALLY good! Not only did I learn more about World War I and the Japanese prison camps, but I learned about what it means to... Read more
Published 21 months ago by DidiM
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbroken
I greatly enjoyed reading this book. The character development was wonderful and complete and there was a good balance between action and emotion. Read more
Published on August 9, 2012 by Anne
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More About the Author

Jamie Lisa Forbes was born and raised on a family ranch along the Little Laramie River in southeast Wyoming. After graduation from the University of Colorado in 1977, she studied and worked in Israel for over a year and then returned to Wyoming where she ranched and raised a family for the next 15 years. After the family ranch was sold in 1993, she moved to North Carolina and eventually began law school at the University of North Carolina. While in law school, she started her debut novel, Unbroken. Unbroken won the 2011 WILLA Literary Award for outstanding contemporary fiction featuring women in the West.
Ms. Forbes practices law in Greensboro, North Carolina and is working on a second novel.

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