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Too Shattered for Mending Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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"Proof that even in the darkness, there can be light."—Kirkus Reviews starred review
"[Hoffmeister's] characters are complex and authentic, and his subtle, stripped-down writing changes the narrative in startling ways as the story unfolds and more details come to light."—Publishers Weekly starred review
"A dark, somber novel with an endearing heart and a captivating protagonist."—School Library Journal, starred review
"A powerful and uncompromising story about survival, loss, fear, and what happens when hope is only the bleakest sliver of light. You will not soon forget Little McCardell and his clan, or his unwavering spirit." —Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces
"As beautiful and brutal as a winter storm, Too Shattered for Mending is the missing lInk between Looking for Alaska and Winter's Bone." –Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King
“A gritty gem of a book.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite
About the Author
PETER BROWN HOFFMEISTER is the author of the critically acclaimed YA novel This Is the Part Where You Laugh, as well as the adult novel Graphic the Valley and a memoir, The End of Boys. A former troubled teen, Hoffmeister was expelled from three high schools, lived for a short while in a Greyhound bus station, was remanded to a recovery and parole program, and completed a wilderness experience for troubled youth. He went on to become a high school teacher and founded the Integrated Outdoor Program, serving teens of all backgrounds, taking them into wilderness areas to backpack, climb, spelunk, orienteer, and whitewater-raft. He lives with his wife and daughters in Eugene, Oregon.
Follow him at @peterbrownhoff.
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"Little" is the younger brother of a star high school football player who has been jailed and is later released. Little has learning difficulties, but loves art class; it is his one refuge from the academic world. As he copes with the dysfunction of his family and the forces unleashed by his grandfather "Big's" activities, the hopelessness of the situation in which Little finds himself and the secrets that are exposed may rip him apart.
Narrated in the first person, Little reveals facets of not only his own life but also that of the other characters. These various individuals are exquisitely drawn, but some are so reprehensible that it is difficult to fathom how Little managed to survive the chaos. Peter Brown Hoffmeister uses language and events that may shock some, but these are neither gratuitous or unrealistic. Rather, the situations may be unfamiliar to the reader because there is a difference in Little's environment and the reader's own, but you cannot help but be pulled into Little's world.
If you are a reader who is willing to immerse yourself in lives that are outside your own comfort zone, you may find "Too Shattered for Mending" as powerful as I did. This is classed as a YA novel, but it is a book that any reader may find difficult to put down.
JT and Little McCardell are pretty much on their own. JT just got released from prison and is trying to get his groove back so he can play college football. He's been the team star in Pierce, Idaho. He's tough, strong, loves the brew and his younger brother, Little.
Little is the kinder of the two brothers -- he truly cares about people, animals, and wants to purchase some land for his future. He works hard but has trouble understanding subjects at school. He loves to be outdoors and hunt. He is content in this small little town in Idaho, where most of the young adults want one thing -- to get OUT.
JT and Little have been raised by their grandfather, known as Big McCardell. He raised these boys the best he could but suddenly he is into meth -- dealing, selling, and using. And now -- he's disappeared. The law keeps after Little as to Big's whereabouts, but Little isn't talking. As the reader, you get little snippets and clues that Little might know where Big may be, but he's not saying.
Little is our narrator and one of the best I have ever run across. The chapters are all titled, something rare in books now and I loved this! The chapters are also short and to the point. Little also takes readers back in time, explaining his life with Big before he disappeared, exposing family secrets.
There are also women in Little's life, Rowan, who is a strung out druggie who is actually JT's girl, but LIttle and Rowan have some type of magnetic bond between them. Then there is Zaylie who is in art class with Little. These two tell a completely different story.
I loved this book ! The characters are SO solid and real that they practically jump off the pages. The story line is fast-paced, interesting, keeps you guessing, and strong. Hoffmeister writes like a dream come true -- for instance --
"I wonder at these moments how we come to like what we do, how some things sit easy with us like old men on a porch in summer."
"There's no light left in the yard, the sun having been dead for a full hour behind the next ridge, and only the tops of the pine trees still flowing, a single line of light along the spine to the west."
"My body is a series of guitar strings turning at the pegs, the strings tightening, pitching higher, near snapping. My head's loose drunk and hot from the Wild Turkey and beer."
And that is just a few examples of this beautiful reading experience. Hoffmeister writes straight from his heart and his experiences. He is the author of novels, some non-fiction, and a memoir.
Mr. Peter Brown Hoffmeister -- you have a new and true fan in me.
When I read the blurb of this novel, I thought I needed to read it and expected a YA book with a slight dose of reality. What I did not expect was being plunged into the bleak reality of a rural Idaho town filled with people having little to no hope of escaping poverty.
I was taken by surprise by the writing style of Peter Brown Hoffmeister.
The penmanship is very distinctive with very short chapters most written in present tense when Little explains what he is doing “I take the truck and head to …” allowing us to follow him in his day to day live. Some chapters are written in past tense when Little is speaking/writing/thinking to “You”.
“You drank the rest of your mix. Set the can empty—sideways, not upright—on the table and it rolled to the middle until it stopped against one of those ears.”
And you understand pretty soon he is addressing his Grandfather “Big”.
As a result this fictional story gave me the same feeling I get while reading or watching some newspaper report covering the live of some people living in poverty. If I got caught up in Little McCardell’s story I can’t say I was drowned in his feelings or really walked in his shoes as the author’s choice made it very “matter of fact”” or “down to earth” rather than emotional.
Now what can you expect from this book?
√ First expect to be surprised.
This is a mystery and after some time I had an idea about what happened to Big and who did what but I was wrong! I never saw it coming. I can say the same about other plot twists or rather what secrets are weighting on some characters.
√Second expect to be confronted to a glum reality
This isn’t hearts, flowers and unicorns. This little town is home of drunkards, meth addicts and dealers, … Most people dream of leaving this town to have a better life elsewhere. Little’s family is very dysfunctional. No mother and no father. His Grandfather is missing at the time of the story, his brother is temporarily absent as well. His uncle and aunt are drunk all the time. Little is forced to take care of his young cousin Willa, goes to school alone and tries to succeed with great difficulties.
“Sometimes I think about how we’re all spread out along here, in these dead North Idaho towns, old US Forest Service and Potlatch logging sites, and everyone young hoping to leave as soon as possible because there’s a world out there that’s supposed to be better than this, a world that’s moved into the 21st century, a world with cell phone coverage and Internet and better cars, a world with colleges and fancy restaurants and jobs people go to every day wearing silk ties and expensive suits. But I don’t know if I ever want to leave. I like this land where there are more deer than people, where moose walk the highway, where trees are taking back the old cuts.”
√Third expect to admire and have compassion for Little
Little is struggling in school as he has dyslexia. Mathematics are Chinese and he does not have any support system from his family, only a teacher trying to coach him.
“When the teacher stands up and lectures, and explains each problem, I discover that all the equations I wrote down before were wrong. Not a single one correct. I rewrite them, but while I’m doing that, the class gets ahead of me and I’m not sure what the teacher is talking about once I start listening again”
Yet he keeps going to school, trying his best. He works in a cemetery to earn some money, goes hunting when his cousin has no meat anymore. Despite his very difficult life he does not want to drink alcohol or forget his problems in drugs like most do in his town. This is a kid that raised himself and chose to have values. He chose to fight, to better himself and at the same time is conscious of his own difficulties. He does not dream big. He just likes hunting, fishing, hiking in the woods. He wants to stay in his little town and enjoy a simple life.
“When I think of being in school or being in the woods, it’s not much of a decision. I know I should love education or something but the real world is a thing I can understand, a thing I can learn and come to love.”
You could say that Little is an old soul.
√Last expect to rage against fate.
Little had no luck in life. Why are some people born into wealth, in a good environment whereas others are born into poverty? There are millions of Little around the world. There are thousands of millions in the US. Struggling every day of their lives with little to no hope. Little is a good kid. He does his best to care for his cousin, to help Rowan his brother’s girlfriend, to help others in need. That’s why it’s so unfair what is happening to him!
So I would say what Jeff Zentner told about this book : “The missing link between Looking for Alaska and Winter’s Bone, a gripping—and gritty—literary mystery that shines a light on rural poverty.” is very accurate and I could not sum it up better.
Would I recommend it? Yes if you’re into mysteries and don’t shy away from realistic writing. No if you’re only into romance and/or hearts and flowers.
As far as I’m concerned and passed the initial surprise of what I did not expect as a read I’m really glad I could follow Little’s raw and gritty story.
Most recent customer reviews
While this isn't a book that I'm drawn to, it does cover important topics and, honestly, my students love...Read more