Thursday, July 18, 2013

Independent novel review: Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson

Why do I feel the urge to type “Rachel S. Thompson”?

Broken Pieces breaks the moulds of confessional memoirs and is rightfully ahead in the polling for best non-fiction book of the year among the E-Festival of Words contenders.

Rachel Thompson is best known for her humourous observations of male-female relationships in her blog, Rachel in the OC, and her previous books, A Walk in the Snark and The Mancode Exposed. These books are short, snappy, definitely snarky. Funny, entertaining and usually dead-on right.
“Husband has t-shirts from before we met. He sees no problem with this fact. “They still fit!” — why should he throw them away? Sigh. #Mancode.
With Broken Pieces, Thompson takes a decidedly more serious turn — a walk on a darker side. The book includes verse and prose poems, as well as extended descriptions of her emotions at different crises or turning points of her life in almost stream-of-consciousness prose.

It begins with descriptions of learning about the suicide of a former lover which happened only hours after she met him following years of separation. With a few well-crafted sentences, Thompson exposes the conflicted emotions that result from the memories of a troubled, inconsistent, thrilling and terrifying relationship.

Broken Pieces is an apt title. The book is very much a collection of essays, odes and prose poems, as well as pieces that are impossible to categorize. There are long passages that describe the author’s up-and-down relationship with her unnamed lover: how his strength made her feel safe, and how that feeling contrasted with his barely-restrained violence and his tendency to tear down her self-esteem. She also contrasts the lover with her eventual (and still) husband.

"Rachel in the OC" Thompson
It’s not all dark: Thompson also writes eloquently about the joys and bemusements of her relationships with her sometimes bumbling husband and their kids. Then, like refractions through a broken window, she turns back to her childhood and the trauma and abuse she experienced.

The pieces are disjointed. But I was never in doubt about which period of her life she had just jumped to. I always knew which man she was writing about on any given page. The book is not an easy read; it’s sometimes disorienting, but it’s compelling writing that tells Rachel’s own story. Broken Pieces shows Thompson as a real person, someone much more sympathetic than she comes across in her earlier books.

You cannot stop reading Broken Pieces once you start.


Get it on Amazon or through Thompson's website.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the book. The combination of poetry, prose, and truth is a 5