The Breakable Vow

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Overview

One night will change her life . . .

Annie McGowan is eighteen years old, smart, wisecracking, fun-loving . . . a typical teenager. Yet circumstances force Annie out of the security of high school and into a world of problems all her own. Faced with an unexpected pregnancy and a turbulent, violent relationship with her boyfriend, Kevin, Annie's life begins to spiral out of control. And though her worst fears about Kevin are realized, in the ...

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Overview

One night will change her life . . .

Annie McGowan is eighteen years old, smart, wisecracking, fun-loving . . . a typical teenager. Yet circumstances force Annie out of the security of high school and into a world of problems all her own. Faced with an unexpected pregnancy and a turbulent, violent relationship with her boyfriend, Kevin, Annie's life begins to spiral out of control. And though her worst fears about Kevin are realized, in the heat of the moment, she finds the courage to fight back.

First-time author and domestic violence expert Kathryn Ann Clarke brings clarity and compassion to an often hotly debated issue. In this inspiring debut novel, one remarkable young woman faces the most difficult odds and emerges on the other side -- whole.

The Breakable Vow features a special educational Classroom Guide section in the back of the book that discusses: How to Recognize the Danger Signs of an Abusive Relationship, Safety Planning, Break-Up Planning, Cycle of Violence, Questions to Ask About the New Person in Your Life, and much more.

After eighteen-year-old Annie becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she marries her boyfriend, but slowly realizes that he is abusive and that she must decide what she can and will do about the relationship and to keep her daughter and herself safe. Includes information on the characteristics of abusive relationships and how to end them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In newcomer Clarke's instructional problem novel about an abusive relationship, Annie gets pregnant by her possessive high school sweetheart, gives birth to their daughter, then marries him. She moves with Kevin from Chicago to Texas, where he receives full ride on a football scholarship; there, his violence towards Annie escalates until a vicious attack convinces her to seek help. But even with a counselor-and a restraining order-Kevin continues to terrorize her until she gets help from outside the law. Clarke, a domestic violence expert, does an excellent job laying out the issues that a young person might face in an abusive relationship and when trying to get out (the author describes the abuse graphically, and in one troubling scene, a police officer called to her house tells her that if she signs a complaint, Kevin "would have a permanent arrest record and all because his wife was flirting at a party"). An appendix covers topics such as the characteristics of an abuser and how to create a safety plan. Unfortunately, much of the narrative emphasizes telling over showing ("It had been so long since there was someone who seemed to really care about her"), and characters with names like Maureen and Marty give the book a dated feel. All in all, the novel comes across as a pointed cautionary tale, and readers may be disappointed that Annie must depend on an outsider-not herself or the system-to ultimately solve her problems. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
The clear intent of this novel, elaborated through an appendix of factual information and advice, is to demonstrate how insidious domestic violence can be and to offer a model for escaping it. Sadly, the lethal combination of great length, wooden dialog, cardboard characters, and peculiar lapses of credible background material militates against the book finding the readers who need or want it. Annie first meets her husband-to-be when they are in middle school. When she becomes pregnant the summer before their senior year in high school, they decide to marry. The young family moves from Chicago to Texas, where Kevin has a basketball scholarship that includes married-student housing. Kevin's emotional and then physical abuse of Annie escalates from apparently innocent moodiness in their early relationship through a full-on assault requiring hospitalization by Christmas of their first year in Texas. It's difficult to pinpoint the time period of the setting: the teens have ready, and apparently legal, access to alcohol; Annie—clearly a caring and loving mother—smokes; they listen to records, rather than a newer recorded music format. More difficult are the theological and biological gaffes: in spite of being a good Catholic, Annie associates the Immaculate Conception with Jesus' physical birth, rather than with the state of Mary's lack of original sin; Annie and Kevin's baby is walking and eating solid foods by the time she's six months old without these feats seeming remarkable to any onlooker. Annie's emotions are, indeed, very realistic, both in their development and expression. The cavalier manner in which her friends suggest and Annie decides to use a gun may be realistic, buta little heart-stopping if Annie is meant to be a model for learning to deal with her problems appropriately. If only the prose flowed smoothly, all these problems would not detract from the impact the story could have. However, with this added rhetorical issue, it's hard to believe readers will get through its 400-plus pages to see how it's possible to get past a potentially deadly situation. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, HarperCollins, Avon, 471p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Francisca Goldsmith
VOYA
Annie and Kevin, high school sweethearts, get pregnant after their "first time." Kevin violently reminds Annie of an innocent situation he misunderstood, and questions whether or not the child is his. With welts on her neck reminding her of his anger, Annie ceases contact with Kevin for one month, after which he proposes and she accepts. An athlete, Kevin is awarded a scholarship to play football in Texas. Annie, Kevin, and baby Mary move from Chicago to live in married student housing. Annie and her daughter are isolated on campus, where Kevin is studying or practicing most of the time. He soon comes to control every aspect of their lives, including the key to the mailbox, cutting Annie off from contact with her family. After other violent outbreaks, Annie threatens to leave, but before she can, one final attack nearly ends her life. An abuse victim, educator, and advocate, Clarke illustrates realistic situations, but her writing is unpolished and amateur. Rather than showing, she tells. Narration is heavy and dialogue banal. A new support system for Annie is conveniently in place when she needs it. But unlike the movies in which the victim resorts to murder because no one listens to her pleas, Clarke provides outlets of support to show readers where they might look for help themselves. Better writing and plot connections would have made this story emotional, but the horror and fear of abuse is ever present, and young female readers will absorb it with trepidation and hope. VOYA Codes 2Q 4P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, HarperCollins, 480p., pb. Ages 15 to 18.
—JessicaMize
Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Annie, 18, is looking forward to the rest of her life. She's been in a relationship with Kevin, and they are certain that they're in love. He has a temper, but that doesn't concern her because she knows that he cares deeply for her. Several weeks after spending a night together, Annie discovers that she is pregnant, and her life begins to spin out of control. Deeply religious, she refuses to accept Kevin's offer of money for an abortion, and, after a tumultuous pregnancy, has a baby girl. Her partner's abuse ebbs and flows, and his threats and her fear that he will take Mary from her keep Annie in the marriage. It takes a final, violent event to prove to Annie that she has to break free-but is it too late? Unfortunately, the novel is marred by awkward sentence structure and didacticism. While the conversations between characters are more realistic, teens will be put off by the pedantic tone of the narration. This is an important topic, but the book is too long and rambling to hold the interest of young adults.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060518219
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/6/2004
  • Edition description: First Avon Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Ann Clarke has extensive experience in the field of domestic violence. She has worked in the criminal court system for fifteen years, assisting battered women. As a national speaker and instructor, Kathy has trained thousands of police officers, judges, states’ attorneys, and counselors.

A former victim herself, Kathy brings realism and clarity to an often confusing issue. In recent years she has shifted her focus to prevention, providing consulting and program implementation to schools, churches, and women’s groups. She currently resides in County Cavan, Ireland, with her husband and six children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 19, 2010

    Very Realistic

    I Enjoy reading lots of books and this book seemed so real and it caught my attention from page 1. I recommend this book for those who love to read about drama like I Do.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    such a true, heartbreaking story

    i highly recommend this book. it is very realistic, and quite scary, knowing things like this happen on a daily basis. the book is about a girl in an abusive relationship with the father of her baby girl. it just tells about her struggles to basically survive. it is an amazing story, however i didnt care for the ending much.

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    Wow. An EYEOPENING Adventure

    Annie is a normal girl, who is in an abusive relationship. I learned alot. How to identify, how to handle an abuser and how to get OUT! I didn't realize how common it is to find yourself in a relationship, where you think its normal for a partner to hit you.... I realized that I thought it was uncommon. I found myself still awake and reading at 1:15 in the morning. I was on my bed reading and crying... I wanted to stop reading because I felt bad for Annie and Mary and I wasn't sure how they were going to get away from Kevin. Most people say "Oh, they're just insecure about themselves." or "They're just in a bad mood." I wanted to keep reading because I knew that if it happened to me, I would know what to do. I learned just because you're a normal person, there's always a chance of abuse in a relationship. This book is an amazing way to educate yourself, not just on physical abuse, but emotional and sexual. Annie is a strong, independant woman, who overcomes a husband, who is abusive, she realizes she can have a life where no one is "Where were you? I'm going to kill you and me." I would recomend this book to anyone, male or female. It's an eyeopener to all. I even recommended it to my mom!

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This Book ROCKS!

    I read this book after my best friend read it. While she was reading this all she could do was talk about the breakable vow! nuthign else. So i decided to read it! Its pretty lengthy and i dont usually have the attention span for big books but i read this book in less then a week. She makes everything seem so real. When she wrote the fight scenes i could just picture it happening right in front of me! I could almost feel the same pain she was feeling! I laughed, I cried, I screamed, and I yelled at Kevin! ALOT! lol! This book was awesome and it would be so great for discussions! I deffinately recomend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2008

    REALLY GOOOOOOOOD

    This book was sooooooo hard to put down because it was so good. Everybody said that it was quite lenghty but i read it in less than a week. I literally would not put it down. I have 2 small children and while they ate, slept, played I read. I truly recommend it. It was like a really good movie and you decide when to stop reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2007

    Wow!

    I loved this book. I first started reading it, just because i needed a long book for a report. But, this is by far the best book i have ever read! It's touching, exciting, and hopeful all in one...! I would defiantly recommend this book for everyone. My best friend, who doesnt even like to read, read this and loved it! Its kinda long, but worth every second. I just wish she had a lot more books for me to read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    best book ever!!!

    I loved this book!!!Even though the ending was dissapointing...Other then that the book was SO good=]]

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2007

    really good book!

    The book is really good. I didn't like the ending. but overall i couldnt put it down until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2007

    The Breakable Vow

    Such a good book. my favorite book of all time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    One of the best books I read all summer

    This is a wonderfull book. I read it over the summer and then reread it again and again. No matter how many times I read the part wheer he comes home and throwns a hammer at her and rapes her, I still get a chill down my spine when I read, 'The doorknob began to turn...' This is a must-read, and the tips on how to protect yourself from an abusive relationship are very helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2006

    Excellent book!!!

    The book was very good. It showed how an abusive realationship starts and how you can be drawn into it. The main character showed what someone, who is young and in trouble, acts like in an abusive situation it was a great book and held me at suspense to find out the ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2006

    couldn't put it down!

    This book was the best book ever! It dressed alot of issuses that authors are afraid to address. In the beginnning, Annie was weak and foolish. Towards the middle and the end, she got stronger. She had to, she had a kid. I would never put myself in that kind of situation. My guy ever tries to hit me, i'll put him in a pine box, six feet under.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    This book was good, but the main character was foolish

    This book is about 2 teenagers who meet and fall in love.....yeah it sounds like a sappy love story but it's not. Annie is a typical teenager who has everything going for her until she meets Kevin. Kevin seems sweet until Annie sees his dark side, he is violet, jealous and can't control his rage. He accuses Annie over & over of cheating on him. Annie goes to a camp out trip and her and Kevin end up together, he promises not to get Annie pregnant but it happenes anyway and it forces them into a rushed marriage. Kevin's rage goes off the wall after he marries Annie. He starts hitting on her, pulling her hair, pushing her down the stairs and calling her names. I thought Annie was foolish for putting up with Kevin once in the book she sits there and let's Kevin throw metal tools at her head and kicks her in the mouth! Even though this book was fiction, the point was that you need to be careful who you choose to have a relationship with and what happened to Annie can happen to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2005

    You can't put it down

    I bought this book for vacation a few months in advance, since I don't get much time to read. Well I made the mistake of reading a few pages and didn't put it down for an entire weekend. I even took it to a family bar be que. The story really made me think about how lucky I was to have a wonderful husband.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2005

    a wonderful teen read!

    this book was outstanding, not only is it a great book for teens but also adults! a friend from school let me borrow her book for selected reading time and i read the first few pages and i was totally hooked! that same day i went out and got the book and finished reading it that weekend! its so good, its the type of book you get and can read over and over and over again! it makes you so much more aware of issues like that especially for the teens that are dating and may even be in an abusive relationship. it has a great storyline but its also a self- help book all in one! I love and it and it is definatinately a book to put on a top ten best books list!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2005

    Wow!

    I just could not put this book down until I finished it! I was well writen and I started thinking alot for my future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2004

    SOOOO GOOOOD

    I could not put this book down! It was so well written and so relatable! I felt like I could have been Annie!! It was so real and opened my eyes to the horrors of dating violence!! Every woman in the world should read this book!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2004

    Well written.

    Annie could hardly believe that handsome Kevin could be interested in her, but he was, and their romance moved along for three years. Both were committed to abstinance, until one night Kevin needs reassurance, and inhibitions melt. It was only once, surely nothing could happen. Annie thought it was done with when she went to confession, but not quite. It only takes once to make a baby, and so Annie and Kevin become reluctant, scared parents. Following a scholorship, they move to Texas. Cut off from her family, Annie is about to be in a place where she needs them more than ever. Kevin had often displayed a temper, and jealousy, but it's even worse now. Before long, Annie knows that even though Mary is the joy of her life, marrying Kevin was the most dangerous mistake she ever made. What's almost equally troubling is the fact that so many turn a blind eye or encourage her to try to make things work, even when he tries to kill her. .................. **** 'The Breakable Vow' is exceptionally well written and moving; however, parents should be aware that the content is graphic and troubling. If your teen can handle the mature matters dealt with, abuse, battery, etc, it's one they should read as a cautionary tale. The end of the novel has a section of faq's about abuse and battery that will be helpful to anyone who might be faced with such things. ****

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2003

    A must read for adults and teenagers

    I am a Police Officer in Arizona. Recently I attended a Domestic Violence Conference in Phoenix where I was introduced to this book. Unfortunately I did not bring enough money to purchase the book at the time, but I did get to read portions of it from a friend who did. I intend to buy this book for my daughters, so that when they begin to discover boys, that they might not get into such a relationship. The book is written in a way that the reader sees the events happening in a third person, but can relate the incidents to their personal life. I have heard of H.S. kids who have read this book and discovered similaraties in their lives and were able to make changes early in their relationships rather than later, after the damage has been done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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