Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’


5-Minute Book Club: BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz

April 1, 2010

It’s the first Thursday of the month and time for our Book of the month: Break by Hannah Moskowitz.

From the back of the book:

Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body.  Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before.  Jonah wants to be stronger–needs to be stronger–because everything around him is falling apart.  Breaking, and then healing, is the only way he can cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders. When Jonah’s self-destructive spiral accelerates and he hits rock bottom, will he find true strength or surrender to his breaking point?

Here’s what we thought about Break, in alphabetical order 😉


Voice.  The voice in Break alone is worth keeping it on your bookshelf.  Then there are the characters.  From Jonah to Jesse to Naomi to Charlotte, they’re all completely empathetic, despite some pretty huge flaws.  There’s plenty of funny, too, including my favorite “mental health outlaw” line that I’m sure Hannah is sick of hearing.  Finally, this book manages to be spare yet full of amazing descriptions at the same time.  Don’t ask me how—just read it.


This book gets inside the mind of a teen boy, and it’s not just girls, sports, and cars in there.  Jonah is one of the most 3D YA characters I’ve ever read.  The reader understands his motivation even when he’s doing things he shouldn’t. His love for his brothers is heartbreaking and heartwarming.  Break is a swirl of emotions right up to the last page.


Um, wow.  That about sums it up for me. I grabbed this book as soon as it hit the shelves, curled up on a chair and started reading.  I couldn’t put it down.  Hannah completely blew me away with her writing. FPP was phenomenal, male POV was fantastic and the other characters were so real and flawed. I never saw where it was going and was surprised.  That’s a major plus for me.  And the cover screams buy me!


It came out less than a year ago but Break is probably the YA title I mention most on Absolute Write. Why? Three little words: First Person Present. Hannah Moskowitz nails it. Her prose is crisp and pulls you along like a riptide. FPP is hard to pull off without it sounding somehow affected; Moskowitz does it so well that Break is my go-to book when questions about that particular narrative mode pop up on AW(which they do—with seemingly alarming regularity).

I also love her descriptions and dialogue. I just skimmed the first chapter as a refresher and was blown away all over again. “Her sneakers make bubble gum smacks against the pavement on her way to me.” How can you not fall for a line like that?


What can I say about the mastery that is Break? So many things stick out as amazing. First is the fact Hannah was sixteen when she wrote it, and we’re not talking about any fluffy story here. This storyline has some heavy handed, deep shit to it(and Hannah would totally approve of me saying that!). Second, it is narrated by a guy. I have a heart for male narrators since two of my books have male POV. It’s easy to fall in love with Jonah. One minute you crush on him, and the next you want to draw him into your arms to comfort him–to ease some of the madness surrounding him. Yes, it’s hard not to want to mother him when he’s being so strong for his sick brother, Jesse, and picking up the pieces of his fractured family. He’s trying to be so much for so many. This personal neglect leads him to break down. Of course, this comes after many attempts of breaking bones since broken bones heal stronger. It’s amazing the metaphorical world that Hannah brings into this story. It’s also an interesting look into an alternative to cutting. Jonah is hurting himself to cope with the pain much like teens who cut themselves do. The characters in this book were phenomenal, and they stayed with you long after you put the book down. Who can forget bff, Naomi, as she’s a misguided partner in crime to Jonah’s mayhem? And even though we pity Jesse for the unbearable allergies he faces, it’s hard to feel for him more than Jonah. As for the narration, I think it is spot on of a teenage male, and anyone who picked the book up without noticing the author would swear it was a guy.


With a rhythm that keeps you reading and a style that leaves no room for bullshit, Break is a book you won’t want to put down. Jonah’s voice is honest and easy to relate to. Jesse, food allergies and all, is the little brother you wish you had. Hannah does a great job conveying emotion and putting reason behind Jonah’s mission.


Let’s lay it out on the line. I have the attention span of a small mammal and/or goldfish. It doesn’t take much to make me put a book down, and pick it up again, and put it down again…wait, is that a shiny thing? Ooh, look over THERE! Anyway, I picked up Break and did not put it down. I read it in two hours and did not notice the passage of time. I have tried for awhile to isolate the reason for this intense engrossment. I think part of it is the idea of the story itself– boy wants to break all his bones? I had to read it, and I was pleased to discover that the subject of self-injury was handled with care and subtlety. Jonah has a unique psychology– not what I expected of someone who is injuring himself– but his portrayal nonetheless feels realistic. Speaking of Jonah: how often do you find a character who is deeply flawed but completely likable? His intense devotion to his brothers made me ache for him every time something went wrong. I missed him when I finished. I suddenly wanted to write from a male POV. I felt the need to recommend it to my mother. She loved it. All signs of a good read. Many thumbs up.

What did you think about Break?  Leave us a comment.  Haven’t read it?  Stay tuned for a special interview and the chance to win Break or better yet, run to your bookstore and buy it, you know you want to.  Next month our book choice is The Shifter by Janice Hardy.  Go buy it, read it and see if you agree with what we have to say.  See you the first Thursday of next month!!


Harry Potter Book Review from an Acknowledged Potterhead

July 15, 2009

I step into the crowded room, and my breath hitches in my chest. This has been a long time coming, but it’s something I have to do. I tap the microphone and clear my throat. “Um, my name is Krista, and I’m a Potterhead.”

“Hi Krista!” comes the crowd’s enthusiastic response.

Grinning like a Cheshire cat, I stare into the crowd. I have found my people.

Yes, it’s true. I am a Potterhead, and I’m dedicating this book review not to just one of the books in the Harry Potter series, but five of them. It seemed a fitting thing to do with the movie opening today to reflect on my Potterheadness. The funny thing is I came to the whole Potter fandom late—as in this June late. For years, I would step lightly around Pottermania. I wasn’t completely out of the loop—I watched the first and second movies, and I’d read the first book back in 2003. I knew the buzz words like Hogswarts, Dumbledore, Hagrid, owls….oh yeah, I attempted to be down with it. But within me, I knew something was missing. I would feel a twinge of envy when people raced to the bookstores at midnight to get the latest book or bemoaned the Half Blood Prince being pushed back.

So, I decided to do something about it. In February, I got on Amazon, and to my amazement was able to find a moderately priced box set of books 1-6. A few days later, my heart jumped for joy when I opened the box. There was the key to unlocking my Harry Potter appreciation.

But I can hear you questioning this equation. “Now wait a minute, you say you bought the books in February, but you just started reading them in June? What’s wrong with you, woman!” I know, it’s insanity. Please put the pitchforks and torches away—I couldn’t help it. Life got in the way, but I promised myself as soon as school was out, I would begin reading the series. It was one promise I kept.

I managed to devour the first two books at a steady pace—often reading late into the night because I just couldn’t put them down. I think that’s the beauty of the series. Every book takes you someplace new and exciting with a new cast of characters. Even after five books, it still seems fresh and intriguing. I was desperate to finish the series by movie time, but alas, I didn’t make it. Which after attending the midnight showing last night(more on that later), I’m kinda glad I didn’t read book six. Why? Because I was totally blown away, and in the same token, I didn’t have the book to base it on to be disappointed. So, I hope to wrap up The Half Blood Prince before school starts in two weeks.

So let’s talk about the author for a minute. I think it would be hard to find anyone in the writing community who isn’t awed and inspired by JK Rowling’s success. It boggles the mind to think someone one day could be living in poverty and writing on napkins as an escape and then a little while later become richer than the Queen of England. You almost have to pinch yourself to believe it. But for me, JK Rowling’s true success is not in her monetary wealth, but in the fans’  love for her characters.

Sure, I’d be a total sellout if I didn’t admit I dream a little dream from time to time of making a living solely off my writing or slipping into a darkened movie theater to find “Based on the Novel by Krista Ashe” in the credits. But the writer in me dreams of character love—that undeniable bond that some writers forge between their characters and an adoring fan base. JK Rowling has that in abundance. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are some of the most beloved characters in modern literature. I fell in love with them myself along with Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, and the entire Weasley family.

The theme that stands out for me the most in the series is love and friendship. In the very first book, we’re introduced to the idea that Lily Potter gave her life for her infant son, and it was her love that warded off Voldemort’s curse. We also see the early remnants of the “adoptive” family Harry acquires in the world of wizardry. Although Harry grows up quite unloved and unwanted with the Dursley’s, he forges an unbreakable bond with the Weasley family along with Hermoine. Through the series, he builds more of a makeshift family with Dumbledore, Lupin, and Sirius Black—not to mention Ron and Hermoine. And when you get right down to it, who doesn’t want friends like Ron and Hermoine? They’re the truest friends anyone could ever want—the kind who are willing to go to the ends of the earth for you.

Finally, I think the beauty of the series is it has a little something for everyone. First off, there’s magic. Like Harry, I’m anxious in every book for him to get back to Hogwarts. I love all the mishaps and mayhem that go on there, and the fight scenes are so intense. Second, there’s something for sports fanatics in the form of Quiddich. Then as Harry and his friends get older, there are the typical “teenage” infatuations. I think we’ve all experienced the mix-ups that Harry goes through with his first crush, Cho Chang and then his inability to tell Ginny how he actually feels for so long. And some of us have struggled with feelings of more than friendship like Ron and Hermoine. In the end, it is a series that is so fantastical, but at the same time, has it’s feet rooted in the real world.

And then last night came my first Harry Potter on the big screen experience. A friend of mine and her daughter got advanced tickets, and they asked me to come along. I said, “Sure!” I’d planned on going, but not necessarily for the midnight showing. Although I wasn’t born in 77’ when the first Star Wars came out, that’s the only thing I can equate to standing in a line, with advanced tickets, that wrapped completely around the side of the movie theater.  People came bedecked in costumes from characters like Harry, Hermoine, and even Dobby. There was a fevered excitement running through the crowd, and when the credits finally rolled, applause and cheering rang through the theater—or theaters I should say since it was playing on eight screens.

So as I close this review, I have a challenge for you. We’d love to hear your Harry Potter love stories. When you started reading, who your favorite character is, what you thought of the movie—whatever you’d like to share.

Do it for Harry!