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The Breakdown Lane

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2005

    Deadbeat Dad of Worst Kind

    Although Julieanne offers helpful advice via a weekly column in a local newspaper, she was oblivious to the warning signs that her own twenty-year marriage was about to collapse. When her husband, Leo announces that the pressure of domesticity is weighing him down and needs a six month 'time-out' Julieanne pleads with him to reconsider. He doesn't. He takes off, with the empty promise of returning in six monts, to a commune far away from home. He doesn't even leave a forwarding address. With the recently acquired status of single parent and breadwinner of three (two teens and a toddler) Julieanne is stressed beyond belief. That stress is followed by puzzling medical symptoms that are soon diagnosed as MS. The reader goes along on the journey with this family guided by the voice of Julieanne and her mildly disabled teen son, Gabe. Gabe's voice will touch any mother's heart. He's been victimized by his peers due to his LD but the reader quickly learns that Gabe possesses depth and sensitivity and intelligence that would make any mother proud. When his mother becomes too ill to properly care for baby Aury, Gabe steps up to the plate without complaining. We don't get Julieanne's daughter Caroline's perspective through her own voice, but we're made aware that Caroline seems too self-absorbed to be affected by the unraveling of her family. Later, we learn that Caroline was simply using the only coping skills she could access during the most troubling and confusing time of her life. Caroline concocts a plan for damage control: go to the commune and fetch the father who deserted them. Surely once he finds gets a first hand account of the terrible troubles at home, he'll come running back, shame-faced and begging for forgiveness. Dad, however, is none too happy to see his two offspring. He's already started another family with a younger woman. Amazingly, this family bonds together and with the help of a family friend and new rich husband for Julieanne, there's a happily ever after for everyone. Even baby Aury. A touching read, which Mitchard tied up nicely at the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2005

    good understanding on MS

    I was interested in reading this book after hearing from fellow readers that the main character deals with MS. I am a person with MS and I found that she protrayed the MS in a positive way. A person with MS does not do well with stress of any kind. I felt as if she had used parts of my life as research for this book. Many people with MS are diagnosed shortly after something very stressful has happened in their life. I can only hope that this book will help people better understand the illness. One moment you can be fine and the next unable to think correctly, walk, sight can be affected as well as speech. Thank You for this information.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    AN AFFECTING DRAMA ELOQUENTLY READ

    Few authors plumb the depths of human emotion as deftly as Jackie Mitchard (Was there a dry eye at the conclusion 'The Deep End of the Ocean'?) Once again she explores the nooks and crannies of love, family and human relationships in the story of Julieanne Gillis. Actress Anna Fields does a superb job of occupying two narrative voices, that of Julieanne and her learning disabled teenage son, Gabe. As Julieanne, she is torn, angry, brave and resilient. With Gabe she gives voice to a young man who is forced to learn very early what can happen when a marriage not only bends but breaks. Married for 20 years to Leo, a not terribly successful lawyer, Julieanne has given birth to three children, two now in their early teens, the third just out of babyhood. She dispenses advice through a column in the local newspaper in their Wisconsin town. She's happy, devoted to her children, and her friends. Sorry the same can't be said for Leo. Think selfish, inconsiderate, or to put it more bluntly 'a real loser' and you have a pretty good picture of him. Seems he's decided he wants to take a break from hearth and home to live in a commune. Off he goes leaving Julieanne and the children behind. He doesn't even leave a forwarding address. When Julieanne is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she has no idea how she can continue being a single parent. Gabe, a son any mother would love, and his sister take off in search of their errant father. 'The Breakdown Lane' is both riveting drama and eloquent reminder of the mysteries of love. - Gail Cooke

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