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by Hannah Moskowitz

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Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. And Jonah wants to be stronger—needs to be stronger—because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is Jonah’s only way to cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on hisSee more details below


Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. And Jonah wants to be stronger—needs to be stronger—because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is Jonah’s only way to cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders. This is the story of his self-destructive spiral, his rock-bottom moment, and how he finally learns to accept help and find true strength through recovery.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seventeen-year-old Jonah is on a quest to break every bone in his body, and his best friend Naomi is there to film each attempt, as he crashes his skateboard or dives into an empty pool. His 16-year-old brother, Jesse, has deadly food allergies and their parents aren't vigilant about keeping the house safe, so that job has fallen to Jonah, who is weighed down by the responsibility. He breaks his bones so that as he heals he becomes stronger ("It's sort of a natural bionics thing. Break a leg, grow a better leg. Break a body, grow a better body"), a belief treated with almost religious reverence from some, like Naomi (who calls it a "revolution"), but that eventually results in his being institutionalized. Moskowitz, who wrote the story while a high school junior, paces the story well and creates in Jonah a believable and complex protagonist. Love interest Charlotte is one-dimensional, and Naomi strains credulity as she eggs Jonah on. But the brothers' relationship is poignant, and Moskowitz's depiction of Jonah and Jesse's respective traumas-and a family drowning in dysfunction-are viscerally real. Ages 14-up.
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VOYA - Brenna Shanks
Seventeen-year-old Jonah McNab plans to break every bone in his body, and his successes are narrated with shuddering detail. He believes that his bones will heal stronger than they were before the breaks and that his strength will help his dysfunctional family grow stronger. His sixteen-year-old brother, Jesse, is deathly allergic to everything, including their breastfeeding mother and new baby brother. Added to this stressful situation are the normal pressures of teenage life. He likes Charlotte, his not-girlfriend, but is not ready to admit to anything more. Naomi, his best friend, enables his breaking and has issues of her own with the McNab boys. Jesse, a star athlete despite his allergies, relies on Jonah, but resents his obsessive care. As one might expect in the debut work of a teen author, the teens and their complex relationships are the strengths of this novel. Jonah's first-person narration is powerful and poignant. The adults, by comparison, are stock characters, hapless and dense for the most part. The final escape from the psych ward (where Jonah is misunderstood by both inmates and staff) stretches credulity. Jonah's recovery process is largely internal and a bit sketchy toward the end, which has a happilyever- after tidiness. This flaw could be serious, but the series of meltdowns that spur his revelations make the process more believable. Intense and gritty, this novel will appeal to many teens, but will probably fit best in high school and public libraries. Reviewer: Brenna Shanks
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Jonah's goal is to break every bone in his body while his accomplice, Naomi, videotapes it. His theory is that a broken bone heals stronger so he believes that his unusual aim will actually strengthen him. At first, this book is difficult to read. It begins with Jonah using graphic language to describe the initial exhilaration he feels after intentional crashing while performing a skateboarding stunt. He then describes the unbearable pain, nausea, and lightheadedness that follow. Although the subject matter is grotesque and disturbing, like a train wreck, it is hard to look away. As you continue reading this book you learn more about Jonah and his difficult home life. He has a loving family but his younger brother suffers from life-threatening allergies and his baby brother screams continually. Readers of this book will want to try to understand Jonah and will root for him as he enters counseling and attempts to stop his self-destructive behavior. The talented young author of this book has written a novel that is upsetting, intriguing, and difficult to put down. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Jonah is determined to break every bone in his body, and to this end he stages accidents that are quite disturbing and painful to read. His friend Naomi encourages him and videos the sickening stunts, which include jumping into an empty 14-foot-deep swimming pool. Jonah's dysfunctional activity stems from family dynamics: parents who argue; an infant brother who wails incessantly for no known reason; and a 16-year-old brother who has life-threatening food allergies that frequently land him in the ER. Jesse is a constant worry for Jonah, who believes his brother is primarily his responsibility. There's plenty of teen angst and drama, but the resolution feels rushed and somewhat implausible. Jonah escapes from a juvenile psychiatric unit with the help of Mackenzie, a teen volunteer at the facility who has access to the isolation unit and knowledge of security codes. Mackenzie is enamored with Jonah's explanation of his self-destructive actions, calling them "adorable." Later that evening Jonah learns that Jesse and Naomi are a couple; this inexplicable union is also crucial to the climax. Despite its shortcomings, the unique, emotional story line may draw in teens who want a quick read and are willing to overlook some of the unlikely plot twists.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA

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Simon Pulse
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My arms hit the ground. The sound is like a mallet against a crab.

Pure fucking exhilaration.

Beside me, my skateboard is a stranded turtle on its back. The wheels shriek with each spin.

And then—oh. Oh, the pain.

The second feeling is pain.

Naomi’s camera beeps and she makes a triumphant noise in her throat. “You totally got it that time,” she says. “Tell me you got it.”

I hold my breath for a moment until I can say, “We got it.”

“You fell like a bag of mashed potatoes.” Her sneakers make bubble gum smacks against the pavement on her way to me. “Just . . . splat.”

So vivid, that girl.

Naomi’s beside me, and her tiny hand is an ice cube on my smoldering back.

“Don’t get up,” she says.

I choke out a sweaty, clogged piece of laughter. “Wasn’t going to, babe.”

“Whoa, you’re bleeding.”

“Yeah, I thought so.” Blood’s the unfortunate side effect of a hard-core fall. I pick my head up and shake my neck, just to be sure I can. “This was a definitely a good one.”

I let her roll me onto my back. My right hand stays pinned, tucked grotesquely under my arm, fingers facing back toward my elbow.

She nods. “Wrist’s broken.”

“Huh, you think?” I swallow. “Where’s the blood?”

“Top of your forehead.”

I sit up and lean against Naomi’s popsicle stick of a body and wipe the blood off my forehead with my left hand. She gives me a quick squeeze around the shoulders, which is basically as affectionate as Naomi gets. She’d probably shake hands on her deathbed.

She takes off her baseball cap, brushes back her hair, and replaces the cap with the brim tilted down. “So what’s the final tally, kid?”

Ow. Shit. “Hold on a second.”

She waits while I pant, my head against my skinned knee. Colors explode in the back of my head. The pain’s almost electric.

“Hurt a lot?” she asks.

I expand and burst in a thousand little balloons. “Remind me why I’m doing this again?”

“Shut up, you.”

I manage to smile. “I know. Just kidding.”

“So what hurts? Where’s it coming from?”

“My brain.”

She exhales, rolling her eyes. “And your brain is getting these pain signals from where, sensei?”

“Check my ankles.” I raise my head and sit up, balancing on my good arm. I suck on a bloody finger and click off my helmet. The straps flap around my chin. I taste like copper and dirt.

I squint sideways into the green fluorescence of the 7-Eleven. No one inside has noticed us, but it’s only a matter of time. Damn. “Hurry it up, Nom?”

She takes each of my sneakered feet by the toe and moves it carefully back and forth, side to side, up and down. I close my eyes and feel all the muscles, tendons, and bones shift perfectly.


I shake my head. “They’re fine.”

“Just the wrist, then?”

“No. There’s something else. It-it’s too much pain to be just the wrist. . . . It’s somewhere. . . .” I gesture weakly.

“You seriously can’t tell?”

“Just give me a second.”

Naomi never gets hurt. She doesn’t understand. I think she’s irritated until she does that nose-wrinkle. “Look, we’re not talking spinal damage or something here, right? Because I’m going to feel really shitty about helping you in your little mission if you end up with spinal damage.”

I kick her to demonstrate my un-paralysis.

She smiles. “Smart-ass.”

I breathe in and my chest kicks. “Hey. I think it’s the ribs.”

Naomi pulls up my T-shirt and checks my chest. While she takes care of that, I wiggle all my fingers around, just to check. They’re fine—untouched except for scrapes from the pavement. I dig a few rocks from underneath a nail.

“I’m guessing two broken ribs,” she says.


“Yeah. Both on the right.”

I nod, gulping against the third feeling—nausea.


I ignore her and struggle to distract myself. Add today to the total, and that’s 2 femurs + 1 elbow + 1 collarbone + 1 foot + 4 fingers + 1 ankle + 2 toes + 1 kneecap + 1 fibula + 1 wrist + 2 ribs.

= 17 broken bones.

189 to go.

Naomi looks left to the 7-Eleven. “If we don’t get out of here soon, someone’s going to want to know if you’re okay. And then we’ll have to find another gross parking lot for next time.”

“Relax. I’m not doing any more skateboard crashes.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Enough with the skateboard. We’ve got to be more creative next time, or your video’s gonna get boring.”

She makes that wicked smile. “You okay to stand?” She takes my good hand and pulls me up. My right wrist dangles off to the side like the limb of a broken marionette. I want to hold it up, but Naomi’s got me in a death grip so I won’t fall.

My stomach clenches. I gasp, and it kills. “Shit, Nom.”

“You’re okay.”

“I’m gonna puke.”

“Push through this. Come on. You’re a big boy.”

Any other time, I would tease her mercilessly for this comment. And she knows it. Damn this girl.

I’m upright, but that’s about as far as I’m going to go. I lean against the grody wall of the Laundromat. “Just bring the car around. I can’t walk that far.”

She makes her hard-ass face. “There’s nothing wrong with your legs. I’m not going to baby you.”

My mouth tastes like cat litter. “Nom.”

She shakes her hair and shoves down the brim of her cap. “You really do look like crap.”

She always expects me to enjoy this part. She thinks a boy who likes breaking bones has to like the pain.

Yeah. Just like Indiana Jones loves those damn snakes.

I do begging eyes.

“All right,” she says. “I’ll get the car. Keep your ribs on.”

This is Naomi’s idea of funny.

She slouches off. I watch her blur into a lump of sweatshirt, baseball cap, and oversize jeans.

Shit. Feeling number four is worry. Problems carpet bomb my brain.

What am I going to tell my parents? How is this setting a good example for Jesse? What the hell am I doing in the grossest parking lot in the city on a Tuesday night?

The feeling that never comes is regret.

There’s no room. Because you know you’re three bones closer.

© 2009 Hannah Moskowitz

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