Friday, April 15, 2016

What's Broken Between Us, by Alexis Bass

Ever since Amanda's brother went to jail for the DUI killing of a girl at her school, Amanda has lived in shame.  She'd like things to return to normal, if she could figure out how.  It doesn't help that her brother is seemingly unrepentant for his behavior or that Amanda is cheating on her boyfriend (with the brother of another girl who was injured in the same accident).  The truth is that over a year after the tragedy no one has healed.  Forgiveness and coming to terms escapes everyone, and Amanda remains crippled by guilt.

The story is a bit slow to start and it ends in a maddeningly inconclusive way.  In between, it suffers from an overabundance of characters and storylines.  But it is nonetheless outstanding for its subtlety and complexity.  That the conclusion leaves much unsolved is an acknowledgement of the complicated emotions portrayed within.  The overall effect is dreary and not particularly affirming, but I found it realistic.  Amanda's character, despite her infidelity, is sympathetic and believable as she lies trapped in her attempts to "fix" the people around her to no avail.

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