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 Fiction Review    

 

 

Broken As Things Are
By Martha Witt
Henry Holt and Company, 2004
Hardcover, $23.00 (304 pages)
ISBN: 0-8050-7595-X
 
 
 

Martha Witt's Broken as Things Are is an accomplished and provocative first novel. Using the deep south as a setting, the author manages to remind readers, a la Tolstoy's opening lines from Anna Karenina, "All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  

Morgan Lee and her older brother Ginx have a particularly difficult and complex relationship complicated by Ginx's good looks and withdrawn personality. Not only does Ginx not want to talk, he's made up a language all his own to avoid undesirable conversations. Morgan Lee instinctively deciphers his vocabulary and encourages his "make-believe" stories. Their world is intense and private until adolescence forces Morgan Lee beyond the family circle. 

Broken as Things Are, a sensitive and imaginative debut, explores the separations necessary for coming of age. 

Martha Witt, who grew up in Hillsborough, North Carolina, currently lives in New York City with her husband and two children. A former New York Times fellow, she earned her M.A. in creative writing from John Hopkins University, and her M.F.A. at New York University.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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