Customer Reviews for

Broken

Average Rating 4.5
( 35 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Top five book this lit professor has ever read!

I read a lot of books (A LOT!!!). I'm a literary professional at a University in Pittsburgh. Broken is a new novel by a young unknown and the only reason I bought it was because this student (though not my student), went to our college for a different major (Physical Th...
I read a lot of books (A LOT!!!). I'm a literary professional at a University in Pittsburgh. Broken is a new novel by a young unknown and the only reason I bought it was because this student (though not my student), went to our college for a different major (Physical Therapy). It's rare that someone from my college becomes published and when they do, I am proud, since I teach these students. However, when I got a hold of Matthew's records, I was displeased to find that he was never my student.

Anyway, all that said, Of the approximately 3,000 books I've read in the last twenty years, I would call this one of the top five.

No, I am not kidding. The characters in this book are completely absorbing, mesmerizing, almost impossible to believe they exist. However, Matthew writes them with such clarity, and gets so deep into their heads, and gives them such an honest and unique voice, that they become believeable.

In the book's dedication he says three things that are worth mentioning (and that's just the dedication).
1- he dedicates it to ALL the women who inspired it. This leads me to believe that the female characters in this book are based on people in the author's life. That makes the reading of it that much more interesting, trying to decide what is fact and what is fiction
2- he continues by saying, "especially to my bride Rea". I find this fascinating because he dedicated it to all the women in his life and then to his bride, especially. They must have a special bond for her to be okay with this and that makes the author, himself, more intriguing to me. Also, he calls her his bride. I've never heard a man refer to his wife as "his bride" after they are married. I find this to be romantic and it excited me to get engorged with the romance stories that unfold in the novel, as I believe Matthew to have a good understanding of romance.
3- He ends the dedication with "if we've loved and been loved, then we will die knowing that our life was important." - that is completely beautiful and 100% true. What else really matters in life?

In a nutshell, the plot is about 14 characters (the novel's narrators), who are Broken from various life tradgedies. This novel is about the healing process and how love factors into it. However, more than the plot, it was the author's writing style and the overall message, that really gripped me.

First, let me address his style.
He writes in short bursts of description. His words are almost always biting and gripping and depending on the narrator they can be shocking, poetic, humerous, or incredibly sad. His descriptions are spot on but they don't wallow too long. He quickly paints a picture and then moves on to the story. In the day and age of ADD, this is perfect.

But the best part of his writing is his dialogue. He writes dialogue maybe as well as any author I've read.

Second, I love it for the overall themes. He doesn't come right out and say what those are, which is good, because it's up to the reader to interpret, but I took these two major themes:
1- Love is the entire purpose of life.
2- Live in the present. People spend too much time wallowing in their Broken pasts instead of moving on and loving life. And many people are simply living this life only as what they view as being a necessary step towards the afterlife. And whether you are religious or not, this life is more than just a stepping stone. We only get one and if we don't live and lov

posted by 3020678 on February 18, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

liked it, didn't love it

I bought this book solely because of all the great things ive read and heard. however, when i got it, i was a little disappointed. maybe because of all the hype that was created from reviews, i dont know. i like it, but it was far from the best thing i've ever read. ...
I bought this book solely because of all the great things ive read and heard. however, when i got it, i was a little disappointed. maybe because of all the hype that was created from reviews, i dont know. i like it, but it was far from the best thing i've ever read. I'd give it a B, B-. Didn't care for the switching narration. I found it to be confusing.

posted by 3112413 on March 3, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Top five book this lit professor has ever read!

    I read a lot of books (A LOT!!!). I'm a literary professional at a University in Pittsburgh. Broken is a new novel by a young unknown and the only reason I bought it was because this student (though not my student), went to our college for a different major (Physical Therapy). It's rare that someone from my college becomes published and when they do, I am proud, since I teach these students. However, when I got a hold of Matthew's records, I was displeased to find that he was never my student.

    Anyway, all that said, Of the approximately 3,000 books I've read in the last twenty years, I would call this one of the top five.

    No, I am not kidding. The characters in this book are completely absorbing, mesmerizing, almost impossible to believe they exist. However, Matthew writes them with such clarity, and gets so deep into their heads, and gives them such an honest and unique voice, that they become believeable.

    In the book's dedication he says three things that are worth mentioning (and that's just the dedication).
    1- he dedicates it to ALL the women who inspired it. This leads me to believe that the female characters in this book are based on people in the author's life. That makes the reading of it that much more interesting, trying to decide what is fact and what is fiction
    2- he continues by saying, "especially to my bride Rea". I find this fascinating because he dedicated it to all the women in his life and then to his bride, especially. They must have a special bond for her to be okay with this and that makes the author, himself, more intriguing to me. Also, he calls her his bride. I've never heard a man refer to his wife as "his bride" after they are married. I find this to be romantic and it excited me to get engorged with the romance stories that unfold in the novel, as I believe Matthew to have a good understanding of romance.
    3- He ends the dedication with "if we've loved and been loved, then we will die knowing that our life was important." - that is completely beautiful and 100% true. What else really matters in life?

    In a nutshell, the plot is about 14 characters (the novel's narrators), who are Broken from various life tradgedies. This novel is about the healing process and how love factors into it. However, more than the plot, it was the author's writing style and the overall message, that really gripped me.

    First, let me address his style.
    He writes in short bursts of description. His words are almost always biting and gripping and depending on the narrator they can be shocking, poetic, humerous, or incredibly sad. His descriptions are spot on but they don't wallow too long. He quickly paints a picture and then moves on to the story. In the day and age of ADD, this is perfect.

    But the best part of his writing is his dialogue. He writes dialogue maybe as well as any author I've read.

    Second, I love it for the overall themes. He doesn't come right out and say what those are, which is good, because it's up to the reader to interpret, but I took these two major themes:
    1- Love is the entire purpose of life.
    2- Live in the present. People spend too much time wallowing in their Broken pasts instead of moving on and loving life. And many people are simply living this life only as what they view as being a necessary step towards the afterlife. And whether you are religious or not, this life is more than just a stepping stone. We only get one and if we don't live and lov

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    escapism- no. permanent library- yes. A book club must.

    This novel was like no other I've ever read. And I mean that in a good way. Still, I couldn't give it a perfect five out of five, and I'll get to the reasons why.

    I don't want to give away any of the plot to the readers; let's just say that the title is perfect. It is about a group of strangers who are all broken. They are all immigrants to california, from all over the rest of the states, as well as from other parts of the world. They are all running away from some kind of tragedy and looking for peace. Some of them find what they are looking for. Some of them are still searching, in the bottom of a bottle or the tip of a needle.

    It's sad and tragic, but at the same time, funny and uplifting. I cried and I laughed, and that is hard to do in the same novel, let alone the same chapter, which J. Nespoli accomplished many times. In fact, in the final chapter, I was crying in one paragraph and laughing at the very next sentence. Needless to say, this novel will leave you exhausted at the end.

    As per the breakdown. I gave it perfect scores in characters, writing style, originality, and for topical conversation and permanent library. This novel was like no other (as I mentioned), and now a days, when everything is re-using old ideas, it is refreshing to see something new. You won't read this without wanting to call a friend and talk about it, so it's perfect for conversation, and it definitely belongs in a permanent library, as I wouldn't even know what genre to put this in.

    I gave it demerits on romance and thrills. Though there was a lot of love, I found some of it to be more about the sexual graphics, and that was too much for me. I feel the writer could have gotten the message across just as well without the graphic description. But maybe that's just me showing my age.

    Great novel. Read it!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very interesting book. Good conversation piece

    I read a lot. This wasn't the greatest novel I've ever read, but it definitely peeked my attention. This would be a great book for a book club, something to sit down and discuss human emotion, love, and good versus evil of the human nature. You see a lot of books, where at the end, there is a discussion with the author. I'd have loved to see one here, because there are a lot of things I'd like to ask him. I'm very curious as to how much of this book is fiction versus reality. I have a feeling that there is a lot more truth than fiction to this novel; either that, or the author was just very effective at writing his characters, because he seemed to know them so well.

    The two negatives I have on this book, is #1- there was some sketchy editing. But you typically find that with most small presses. And #2- The characters were fascinating, but there were too many for me to keep them straight. I think he could have written just as great a novel coming from 7 characters instead of 14. Still, it was a great read and I commend the author (who seems to be a first time novelist), for having the guts to take on a story like this.

    The novel wasn't necessarily fun to read, but I must admit that I couldn't put it down, and afterwards, for a solid week, I was thinking about some of it's themes, and thinking about my own life.

    That's pretty powerful stuff. How often, in modern art, in the day and age of ADD, does something fully capture our attention like this?

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    Buy it, who cares who broke it?

    This book is ambitious. The appendix of the book lists over a dozen major characters and throughout the story we get to see the world through their eyes, if only for just a moment. The Author grasped my attention through unfair means, I am a native Pittsburgher and Steelers Fan and Jerome Bettis makes a cameo in the book in the first few pages. However, once that scene was over, I was interested enough in the characters. The first point-of-view shift occurs after two of the characters violently interact physically. This was sufficiently jarring to introduce what is a major narrative device in the book, the shifting point-of-view of the characters throughout the novel.

    I'll admit, I was skeptical at first. The story was gripping from the first dozen pages, but I found myself wondering whether or not the story would be better served or more clearly connected were the story written entirely in the the third person. I didn't think of it again until when I finished the book and I realized that it couldn't have been written any other way. As much of a part of the story as the events that happen to the characters are, what constitutes a larger understanding of it all comes from not only the characters' thoughts but also their view of the world.

    To not get into specific detail about the scenes, as the element of surprise in the connections is another fun aspect to the story, but in different instances we see the same scene from different characters' perspectives. This serves to show that the reality of a situation is subjective; what one character might find an embarrassing circumstance another finds endearing, among others.

    Another benefit of of the multi-perspective storytelling is that it serves for the ending to feel more like a real life one. Some are happy. Some are tragic. All of them are fully realized changes in character that exemplify all aspects of the human mood: despair, joy, sadness, anger, murder, rape, relations with others of different genders and races, Love, and HOPE. It is the type of story that gets better after repeated readings. It would make a particularly good film or even series. Broken is a story that is wildly original, but resonates with an honesty of feeling that readers can find in the important stories in the history of countless literary cultures.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Felt like I was reading my own bio

    Not that I'm that messed up, but I really related to this book. Specifically the character, Amber. Not because I'm a lesbian or anything, but because I understood her pain. I understood all the character's pain, even if I couldn't relate to their experiences.

    As a woman, it was nice to see a book written by a man, that did a great job of really understanding women and getting in their heads. I wish I could find a boyfriend who understood women as well as this author.

    What I liked best was that it didn't wrap up the story in a big pink bow like a book that was just made for a Hollywood movie targeted at 30 year old divorced women. The ending was real or as I imagine it would be, were these people in existence. Some of the people found vindication and happiness, some did not, and that's life.

    A definite must read. A top ten book of the year. I review books for a living, so I'm speaking with some authority.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wow!

    Broken is one of those novels that you can't put down after just the first few sentences. Its opening is like a glass of ice water to the face in the middle of your sleep and it doesnt let up until the end. its not drama or action that keeps you paying attention, its the complexity of these characters. even though they were all much more complex than me, i found them fascinating and easy to relate too. making both of those happen, with the same character, is tough to do.

    I haven't heard of this author before, but I will surely read his previous or future work.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not for everyone, but definitely for me.

    The novel definitely hits on some adult topics, like child abuse, sexual molestation, suicide, and drug addiction, amongst others, but those are the types of things that we encounter in the world. I get the feeling that the author knows the people he writes of, as they have very distinct voices. This is definitely not a novel for the escapist, but it is something that will get you talking at a dinner party or book club. Were it written by a more noted author, it would be considered a very important novel.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Provocative

    This is the most interesting fiction I've read, from a small publisher,in at least two years. I loved the characters, the wit of the author, and the way he seemlessly dove from one voice to another. I had a hard time deciding if the author was schizophrenic or just very skilled at reading into other people.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    a must for libraries

    this book was a bit hard to read at times. But not because it wasn't really good (because it was), but because the characters were so real and so sadly broken. some of them led disturbing lives, the kinds of lives we like to ignore as actually happening in our society. and for that, I believe that this novel should be read by everyone.

    The novel is at its most enjoyable when the writer hits on lighter topics; his sense of humor is very witty and sharp. However, it is the hard hitting topics that carried the most weight and what I will remember this novel for

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    something new

    I've never read a novel that had thirteen different narrators. It would've helped if they put the character list in the beginning of the book, rather than the end, because I didn't see that until I finished the read.

    Regardless, I found all of the characters to have a unique voice and to be interesting. They weren't all likeable, but that's true to real life. I especially found the musician, the writer, the Filipino girl, and the pedophile to be the most interesting.

    I'd like to meet the author and ask him how much of this was real and how much was made up.

    Not the greatest novel I've ever read, but it was definitely very good, and very unique. The writing style reminded me a bit of Chuck Palahniuk in places and I wonder if that is one of the writers influences.

    Yet, unlike Chuck, this writer had the ability to be touching and moving, and come out of the mode of "in your face".

    Some things felt like they were there for shock value, but 95% of the novel, though shocking, felt real.

    I could see this as a TV series, in the vein of Crash, on HBO.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    no joke

    this story will hit you like a ton of bricks. it's real life and it's tragic, but the author uses a style of prose that keeps you from falling under the weight of it. beautiful story. 18 and up. great read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2010

    Here's something to talk about

    There are multiple narrators in this novel, but each speaks with a very unique and discernable voice. The characters were complex, but there is at least one that I believe everyone will be able to relate to.

    The read made me laugh and cry and also gave me some chills and butterflies. It's the rare novel that makes one laugh, and then, two paragraphs later, has the reader crying tears for the loss of a character. It's very easy to fall in love with this Broken group of characters. I can easily see this as a television series if anything becomes of the book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    good stuff. type of book that stays with you

    I read this one on a flight, which was a mistake. this is not a light summer read, or travel fodder. This is something to be read when your mind is clear and clean and you are ready to be emotionally engaged. The characters were real and had clear voices and the author did an excellent job of keeping them all seperate from one another.

    The story gets confusing at times, but that may be because I was on a red eye and couldn't focus. Typically, I read for a few hours and fall sleep on a red eye. With this book, I was up all night, which ruined my next day. Still, I recommended it to my family when I got home and cant wait to talk about it with them. There were at least three things in the book (and I wont tell which), that directly reminded me of my family and the ways in which we are "broken". Unless you're the Brady Bunch, I can't imagine anyone reading this and not being affected.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    "It's amazing how often we blindly trust in one another."

    J. Matthew Nespoli's Broken is suitable for any audience that is in search of new waves of emotions that are unexpected but stimulating. Nespoli sets you up for an adventure through different worlds of people. Each of the thirteen characters that Nespoli introduces throughout the story faces their own inner demons and tries to find a better way of living with the constant heartache they experience. These characters that Nespoli brings out are not completely fictional. His experiences of traveling the country and meeting people are put into these characters; creating those unique personalities and relatable issues. With a variety of different characters with different pasts and futures, there are many characters to relate to. The daily struggles that these individuals face is what brings each character to cross paths but little do they know the world is much smaller than they think. The voice of each character is unique in such a way that it brings many individual minds to think alike. It shows you that no matter how different everyone is, there is something that we all have in common; we are all "broken". The characters are emotionally shattered and a few are mentally distraught, pushing the need of an outsider that is stronger than they are to help them mend their ever growing problems. The crossing paths and the unexpected uniting of the characters is what allows them to evolve from one mind set to a more mature and open-minded one. Once you start reading you grow an immediate bond with the characters and you begin to connect dots on your own and sometimes realizing things about characters that you wish you hadn't. Reading each of their undertaking struggles takes you in and you cannot turn away. The building urge to help them is impossible but the need to know where they end up is just pages away, leaving you no choice but to continue reading.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    couldn't put it down

    Every so often, I come across a new book, from an unknown author, that rocks my world. Sometimes this novel comes from a recommondation of a friend, or sometimes I just stumble on it. Either way, finding one of these novels is something that I treasure much in the way that hipsters treasure finding a new hip indie band. I read this book in two days. I would have finished in one, but it's fairly long, and I'm fairly old. I must say that it's the fastest I've read a novel in years.

    The topics this novel hits are the problems that are youth get involved with; things that my generation didn't have to deal with. Still, J. Matthew wrote this in a way that was easy for me to relate.

    I loved it, and I can't imagine anyone, but some old fuddy duddies, not liking it

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!

    I read a lot of books, but I'm not a writer, so I very rarely leave a review. This largely unknown author knocked it out of the park with this novel, relased by a very small publisher. I'd be surprised if another larger publisher didn't pick this up in the next couple of years.

    It's a long book, and I read it in two sittings, which is saying quite a bit. I stayed up all night and went it to work looking like I was hungover. And it was worth it, the ending is unlike any ending I've read before, and I didn't see it coming, which is rare.

    This novel, about 14 people who are "Broken", living in Los Angeles, searching for something to free them of their pain, was easy to get engrossed in, because the characters were easy to relate too. I found myself specifically captured by one of the characters (whom I wont mention), who's life seemed eerily like my own.

    Read this book, I dont want to give much away, but you will love it. It's funny, sad, beautiful, and the writing is terrific. At the end, the author leaves us with a poem. It's beautiful and obviously ameatur, which makes me wonder if he did that intentionally, because it is suppossed to be written by one of the characters. REgardless, its beautiful, and like the character Amber, I may have printed and framed on my wall."

    The last few lines are what really grabbed me:

    Maybe there is a celestial being,
    and to the pain it will bring meaning;
    Soothe our wounds and temper our hate
    Bring us peace before too late.
    May love find a soul in need
    Give me the strength to proceed,
    To keep walking
    Keep walking
    Despite our broken selves

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    rough ride, but worth it

    loved it. the characters were rich and the body was full. it was a cant put down type of read and i felt like i learned something through the rocky ride

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2010

    liked it, didn't love it

    I bought this book solely because of all the great things ive read and heard. however, when i got it, i was a little disappointed. maybe because of all the hype that was created from reviews, i dont know. i like it, but it was far from the best thing i've ever read. I'd give it a B, B-. Didn't care for the switching narration. I found it to be confusing.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2010

    Raw, Righteous and Remarkable

    Review By Randall Radic

    Remember this nursery rhyme?

    "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

    All the King's horses and all the king's men
    Couldn't put Humpty together again."

    It was written in England by an unknown author, and first published in 1810. The term 'Humpty Dumpty' was slang for a short, clumsy person. And the moral of the rhyme is that sometimes things are broken beyond repair.

    Two hundred years later, in the year of our Lord 2010, J. Matthew Nespoli has written an updated version of Humpty Dumpty. Only it's not a nursery rhyme, it's a novel. It's called Broken. And it's about people who -- like Humpty Dumpty - have taken a great fall. Like the King's men, they are attempting to pick up the pieces of their lives and put them back together again.

    The story takes place in Los Angeles. It's told from 14 different viewpoints, which is unbelievably difficult to do. In fact, if Nespoli hadn't done it, the reviewer would have bet dollars to donuts that it couldn't be done. What's scary is that Nespoli doesn't just do the impossible - pull a candy-striped elephant out of his hat - he does it flawlessly, exquisitely and masterfully. As in Henry Miller meets James Ellroy genius-kind-of-thing.

    Good fiction writing is hard to find. Super-duper fiction writing is harder to come by than military grade uranium. You know you've found it because it radiates world-class sentences. Broken has a lot of such sentences. For example: "The bible says the meek shall inherit the earth. When the hell is this supposed to happen?"

    That is, without a doubt, café electrique level writing. Cool and proto-punk!

    Nespoli also has a knack for rock-solid dialogue. Which means he has an ear for how people talk in real life. Which means idioms, idiosyncrasies, and sentence fragments. In real life, people don't talk like college textbooks. They talk like people. Which means they use parochial slackness and ignore all the rules of grammar and syntax. Nespoli plucks this slacker jargon out of the air and puts it down on the page. In short, he manages to capture the pungency of human expression. And it is this ability that keeps the story hurling along like a loop roller coaster.

    Essentially, Broken is about love in all its variations. Some kinds of love are toxic. Some are non-toxic. In the end, though, even toxic love is redemptive. For ultimately, all the characters in Broken are looking for the same thing. They want to be loved. They crave it. They are starving for love. They need love so badly they don't even realize the depth of their yearning. In that sense, then, the book is speaking to all of humanity. Everyone is broken in one way or another.

    And everyone wonders if - just perhaps - love might be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    Broken is a raw, righteous and remarkable novel, written by a novelist of tremendous talent, who has much insight into the human condition. Nespoli knows the difference between showing and telling. The result is fat character development, which means the protagonists display copious amounts of flesh and blood and emotion, and distinctive pacing, which means the story avoids wallowing in the trough of self-indulgence.

    The reviewer hopes J. Matthew Nespoli is hard at work on his next effort. For the reviewer is impatient. Deluxe novelists who ca

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Riveting!

    Loved it. Couldn't put it down. This book helped me, with my own issues, which run deep. I've never reviewed a book before, but I will say that this one helped me to feel less alone

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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