by Hannah Moskowitz


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Break by Hannah Moskowitz

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.
When Jonah's self-destructive spiral accelerates and he hits rock bottom, will he find true strength or surrender to his breaking point?

"[F]or those with a taste for the macabre and an aversion to the sentimental, it’s hard not to be taken in by the book’s strong central relationships....[Break] is like a one-man Fight Club, and it could find nearly as many ardent followers" —Booklist, starred review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416982753
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Edition description: Original
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 383,146
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Hannah Moskowitz is the award-winning author of the young adult novels Break; Invincible Summer; Gone, Gone, Gone; and Teeth; as well as the middle grade novels Zombie Tag and Marco Impossible. She lives in New York City. Learn more at

Read an Excerpt



    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.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Break 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
    Aslera More than 1 year ago
    Teen author Hannah Moskowitz blows her readers away with this stunning debut novel. It's not often that you see a debut novel deal with self-destructive behavior, a family struggling to manage a chronically and acutely ill child, and the natural and normal rollercoaster of teenage life. Moskowitz treads a careful line between "too much" and "not enough" with these touchy subjects, but does so artfully, weaving narrator Jonah's voice between truly horrifying descriptions of Jonah's crunching bones and his brother Jesse's potentially lethal allergic reactions to--well, everything. This is a subject that could easily get overblown, but even in the most dramatic aspects of Moskowitz's delicate subjects, Jonah's voice is real as he talks himself down from internal panics to real actions. His deliberate and careful breaking of his own body is gruesome, but believable. As with all YA novels, pacing and realism are amongst the most important. Moskowitz's strengths lie in her dialogue and, without a doubt, her pacing. The suspense is built so that the reader is caught up with Jonah's increasing sense that things are not as in control as he wished they were, and the reader never feels rushed along for the sake of page length or plot points. Moskowitz's very real subjects are strong enough to overwhelm the only scene, towards the end, which trembles at the edge of unbelievable. By that point, however, the reader is so torn between being sympathetic towards Jonah's plight, and being horrified at the world crumbling around him, that this minor issue shouldn't hang them up much. Overall, an excellent, complex novel from a young, promising author. I would recommend this to any teen or fan of young adult lit.
    cal-love More than 1 year ago
    When I purchased this book I didn't bother to read the complete intro. Just a few lines from the author about the book was enough to pull me in. I thought. "A book about a boy that wants to break all his bones to be stronger? Hmm this will be an interested twisted story." And was I right. I thought this book was very thrilling and real. The main character blames himself for everything, without barely noticing. He decides that because his oldest of youngest brothers' is practically dying, that he needs to be as strong as he can to deal with it. Where the idea of breaking every bone in his body becomes a great idea. Because everyone knows that when a bone breaks it grows can stonger, right? So he's on a mission. To become this strong kid that keeps his family together. And he believes by doing this his brother will live happy. He just doesn't realize that he's breaking himself down more. He's making his family suffer more. And at the end, is it worth it? Is he making everything better? I have to say that while reading this book, from the first sentence I forgot that the author was a High School student...Younger than me. And when I was done (within roughly ten hours of hardly putting the book down) I read the 'About the Author' Page reading that Hannah is still in High School. Amazing! This is a total must-read!! ...I wonder where her creative writing will take us next...
    RPVReader More than 1 year ago
    From the first page, the author had me hooked. She uses dialogue (with some swearing so Reader Beware) extremely well to create three-dimensional young characters. The premise seems odd until the reader begins to understand the characters. It then all comes together. The book is emotional and intelligent.
    BetweenTheLines More than 1 year ago
    Wow. I read this whole book before reading the little "about the author" at the end of the book. If they hadn't told me, I would have never guessed the author was STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL!?! I was so pleasantly surprised with this book. I didn't think I was going to like it at all. It just didn't sound like something I would be in to. A boy who wants to break all of his bones to become stronger? I decided to give it a go because Ordinary Ghosts was boring the beegeezus out of me and I needed something different. I also thought I've been reading so much paranormal stuff right now, a more realistic fiction book might be a nice change. I was blown away at how much this book struck me. Jonah is such a real character. Moskowitz captures the mind-set of what I feel a self-harmer would be. I've always thought that you've got to be pretty looney to want to hurt yourself to feel better. The way Jonah has so much depth to his character is just...well..amazing. There is a very large psychological element to the book. Not as in a psychological thriller kind of way...but more of a 'what the heck is going on in this guys head' kind of way. I think it is captured well. Jonah, and his family, are a bit nutty. It is a hard thing to capture for a veteran author, and an amazing thing for a debut novel of a 17-year old! Many times it comes off as unbelievable. Moskowitz's writing captures the family dynamics perfectly. There are strong realtionships between the characters. Some healthy, some not. One thing that might deter some readers is the use of profanity, however, show me a group of average 17-year-old boys where you hear no profanity. I didn't feel that the language was unnecessary as I have in other novels. Sometimes I feel that the language adds nothing to the story, this is not the case in Break. The plot, characters, and storyline were very enjoyable. I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for future novels from this author. I can only imagine what will come flowing from her creativity as she becomes more experienced and continues writing. Thank you to Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century for passing on this ARC to me through one of her cool giveaways. One last note, the ARC I read is only 262 pages and Amazon has the book listed at 272 pages. I'm hoping I didn't miss 10 pages of stuff! Please visit me at my blog, Between the Lines, at I'd love to hear from you! ~Jenn
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Break was unlike any other book I've ever read. I wasn't a big fan of Naomi, but I did like Jonah and his relationship with his brother. As intense as Jonah's self-injuring habits were, Moskowitz captured it with realism that made you feel as though you were suffering right along with him. This book definitely isn't for everyone and can be a bit heavy due to the actual breaking, but if you're up for a YA contemporary that is crazy different (and a bit crazy) and borderline dark, grab this one. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I was a little worried about reading book because it didn't look all to good, but once I started reading a couldn't put it down and sad to see it enf
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I found this book amazing and the story it told so interesting I couldn't put it down the idea of doing these things to yourself to try to make yourself stronger is compelling to me. I havnt broke a bone before but a friend that did tells me it sucks so I cant imagine someone doing it on purpose. Overall an amazing read and I know it won't happen but I want a follow up.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Honestly a great book. A touching story. Well developed characters that you fall in love with, a stellar plot, and great writing. Hannah moskowitz does a great job of connecting with her audience and she knows what the teenage reader is looking for. 156 pages.
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    kikitiki More than 1 year ago
    Great book! Hope the author continues to write.
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    Madi Parker More than 1 year ago
    i really liked this book. if ur looking at this book then u should totally get it!!!!!!
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    A_Cappello More than 1 year ago
    wow what a ride jonah takes you on great book.just wish it ended different