Broken Angel

Broken Angel

by Sigmund Brouwer

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307457196
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/05/2009
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Sigmund Brouwer writes for both children and adults. In the last ten years, he has given writing workshops to students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. One of the writers in Orca's Seven series, he has published well over 100 books for kids, from YA fiction to picture books to nonfiction, with close to 4 million books in print. He recently won the Arthur Ellis award for his book Dead Man's Switch, which was also a finalist for the Red Maple as well. Devil's Pass, from the Seven series, was shortlisted for the John Spray Mystery Award and the Red Maple. Sigmund and his family live half the year in Nashville, Tennessee, and half the year in Red Deer, Alberta. For more information, visit sigmundbrower.com.

Read an Excerpt

We had agreed–the woman I loved and I–that as soon as you were born, we would perform an act of mercy and decency and wrap you in a towel to drown you in a nearby sink of water.

But in the motel room that was our home, the woman I loved died while giving birth. You were a tiny bundle of silent and alert vulnerability and all that remained to remind me of the woman.

I was nearly blind with tears in that lonely motel room. With the selfishness typical of my entire life to that point, I delayed the mercy and decency we had promised you. I used the towel not to wrap and drown you, but to clean and dry you. As I lifted your twisted hands and gently wiped the terrible hunch in the center of your back–where your arms connected to a ridge of bone that pushed against your translucent skin–I heard God speak to me for the first time in my life.

He did not speak in the loud and terrible way as claimed by the preachers of Appalachia where I fled with you. Instead God spoke in the way I believe he most often speaks to humans–through the heart, when circumstances have stripped away our obstinate self-focus.

Holding you in your first moments outside the womb, I was overwhelmed by protective love. Even in the circumstances that you face now, believe that my love has only strengthened since then.

I do not regret the price I paid for my love for you. But I do regret what it has cost you, all your life. And I have never stopped regretting all that I’ve kept hidden from you.

My confession begins with how I deceived you the day after your sixth birthday. You may still believe that we went to the surgeon to help the dove, the one you named Angel.

It was a lie. If only that were the worst of my sins…

Prologue
In the afternoon of the day after Caitlyn’s sixth birthday, the waiting room had been quiet, without the coughing or groaning found among those down the hall waiting for a general physician. The physician, an Appalachian like them, had determined their ailments were ones to be treated by a sharp scalpel, and he’d sent them here to see the Outside surgeon, who spent a week every month inside the Great Fence.

Standing beside Papa, Caitlyn felt self-conscious among these strangers. She held a small wooden box with her white dove inside, lifting the lid occasionally to whisper encouragement to it, glad to find its black eyes still bright and attentive.

She’d found Angel below a window and had given her care for a week already. Papa had promised Caitlyn that a surgeon might fix the dove’s broken wing, and she had prayed all the way from the collective that God would allow it.

To ease her nervousness, she used her tongue to wiggle a loose tooth back and forth. She had already lost four and was proud that she had learned not to cry at the quick pain that came when Papa helped her pull them loose. She wore the red shoes she’d been given for her birthday but couldn’t fool herself into believing they made her look pretty for these people. She held Papa’s hand for comfort and kept her back pressed against the wall. She wore a loose jacket but still felt as if all these strangers knew that her back was not like the backs of other girls.

Once, before they’d settled at the collective, she and Papa were at a church gathering in a small town along an abandoned railroad, deep in one of Appalachia’s hundreds of valleys. Children had been playing around the adults, who stood in a tight group to discuss the weather and the morning’s sermon. Caitlyn had made friends with another girl who was tiny like her. They wandered among the boys, who were rough and tumble and pushed Caitlyn to the ground. Her new friend helped her up and patted Caitlyn on the back. A question was asked, and Caitlyn began to shed her coat, innocently. Papa ran toward them, shouting.

He arrived soon enough to prevent other adults from seeing, but three of the children had already glimpsed Caitlyn’s mutated arms–terribly thin and long, dark with shaggy and coarsened hair. They screamed in horror, and Caitlyn never made the mistake of playing with other children again. Not because Papa warned her against it, but because she finally understood she was different. She didn’t like being different. It made Papa sad.

***

When Caitlyn’s name was called, Papa stood and took her by the hand to a small private room where the surgeon waited.

The surgeon had his back to them when they entered. He turned, holding a clipboard. He wore a mask but had pulled it down so his entire face showed. He had short brown hair and dark brown eyes.

Caitlyn sensed the same thing in the man as she did in Papa. She couldn’t put it into words, of course, not even in her thoughts, but she understood the aura of sadness and kindness about the surgeon. Others often recoiled from her, but he knelt and put his hands on her shoulders.

“Hello,” he said, looking directly in her eyes.

“Hello,” Caitlyn said. She felt safe with this man, like she did with Papa. “Papa said you might be able to fix Angel and help her fly again. I call her Angel because she is so white.”

She opened the box. The surgeon studied the white dove with great seriousness. He asked permission to lift the dove out of the box. Caitlyn liked that. Other grownups would not have been that nice.

“I’ve never seen such a beautiful bird,” the surgeon said.

Caitlyn shook her head. “Me neither.”

“I’m told you are not a physician interested in politics,” Papa said to the surgeon. “That is the only reason we are here. We have a little angel who needs help.”

“I’m from Outside.” The surgeon still looked into Caitlyn’s eyes. Smiling, but still with sadness. “What happens in Appalachia is not my business.”

“We need to trust you,” Papa said. “I can’t even tell you why or how important that is.”

The surgeon set the dove back into Caitlyn’s box. He consulted his clipboard. “Jordan, right? This need is why you wouldn’t let the general physician prepare the x-rays?”

“Feel my daughter’s back,” Papa said. “Between her shoulder blades.”

Caitlyn stepped away instinctively, but Papa told her it would be all right. He helped her remove the loose coat. Caitlyn stared at the floor and shivered as the surgeon’s soft, gentle hands ran along her coarse skin. Why did she have to be such a burden for Papa?

“Very atypical,” the surgeon said. “Not only her back. But her fingers. Her hands. Her thin arms. I’d like to do a medical history. Maybe there is some hormone treatment to–”

“She needs your help,” Papa said. “A simple operation on her back. Help. Not questions.”

The surgeon raised a questioning eyebrow.

“In my other life,” Papa said, “I had considerable medical background, but I’m not a surgeon.”

“Your other life?”

“My daughter would not have been able to cope, Outside. That’s why we are here.”

Caitlyn wanted to pull on Papa’s hand. He and the surgeon had forgotten about the box. Although Papa had taught her to be polite, she couldn’t help herself and held the box toward her father. “Papa, don’t we want to help her fly again?”

Papa smiled and kissed her forehead. “Yes, my love. Sometimes adults talk about things that aren’t interesting to a little girl. Forgive Papa.”

Caitlyn studied the doctor’s face. Papa said he could help them, and she was terrified he would refuse. It was such a beautiful bird. She loved it.

“After the x-rays,” the surgeon finally said, “we’ll need blood samples.”

“Just x-rays,” Papa said. “Samples become part of medical files. The x-rays, I can take with me.”

The surgeon was quiet for another long moment. He looked at Caitlyn again, and his sad smile surfaced.

“X-rays that you can keep, then,” the surgeon said. “If possible, surgery later today. Whatever you are trying to hide is on your conscience. I want to help the girl.”

“Thank you,” Papa said.

Caitlyn wiped away tears. The surgeon had agreed to try to help her beautiful broken bird and she was happy.

The surgeon nodded at Caitlyn, as if he understood the reason for her tears. “X-rays first.”

Papa held Caitlyn’s hand while she stood in front of a strange machine. She was forced to wear a heavy gown. Papa wore one too. The machine made a chunking noise. She was asked to stand sideways. Another chunking noise.

“This will help?” Caitlyn tried not to move the box in her hands.

“Yes. This takes a picture of bones to see what is wrong. Hold the box still, my love.”

After, they waited in the small room until the surgeon returned with black and white sheets. He held the sheets against a board of light on the wall.

“Amazing,” the surgeon said. “This bone structure. The formations are like–”

“No questions, please,” Papa said. “For the sake of the girl. Once surgery is complete, she will be free.”

The surgeon studied the x-rays. Caitlyn was fine with the silence. When they were away from others, she and Papa often sat together, content, saying nothing.

“No,” the surgeon finally said. “Too dangerous.”

“You said what happens in Appalachia is not your business.”

“I don’t care that you’re illegal. The surgery is too dangerous.”

The surgeon put his finger on one of the sheets. “Here. You can see the growths. That means extra blood vessels and the nerves at the spine too. If I go in there now, at the base, there’s a very good chance that she will be paralyzed.”

Papa was silent for so long that Caitlyn wondered if he was feeling ill. When he had a cold or a fever, she liked to tend to him. To fuss over him and bring him water to drink. It was so little compared to all he did for her, but it seemed to make him happy.

“You can’t fix my broken bird?” Caitlyn asked.

“Outside, there are facilities for specialized surgery.” The surgeon spoke past her. “I can make a recommendation. With the right people and equipment, it should be possible to make a complete removal. You know that Bar Elohim grants mercy visas for medical visits to Outside.”

“No. It would destroy her.”

“But these are spinal specialists. They wouldn’t paralyze her.”

“It would destroy her life,” Papa said. “She cannot return Outside.”

The surgeon froze and stared at Papa. “Return? You’ve considered escape?”

“That was another statement of trust. What can you do to help?”

“Will these grow as she matures?” the surgeon asked, tapping the sheet again. “I ask because you seem to know more than you want to say. For someone with a medical background.”

“In Appalachia, it’s wisest,” Papa answered.

“There will be future growth?”

“Yes.” Papa spoke so quietly that Caitlyn could barely hear him. This tore her heart.

“When you are confident that the growth has stopped,” the surgeon said, “come back to me. I will cut them off away from the base, far enough from the spine that we don’t risk paralysis. What remains won’t be too difficult to hide with the right clothing.”

“The growth will continue until after puberty. Something needs to be done now.”

“Surgery every time there’s another few inches of growth?” the surgeon snapped. “Is that what you want to do to her?”

“No.” Papa looked at his shoes.

Caitlyn fought tears again. “We have to wait to fix the bird?”

“Yes,” Papa said. “I promise, even though it can’t fly, we’ll take very, very good care of it.”


From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

1. Why do/don’t Christians have a right to tell non-believers how to live?

2. How important is doubt to faith?

3. Why should Christians fight for the separation of church and state?

4. Would Jesus suggest that Christians need to band together to form a political power?

5. What are the advantages/disadvantages of putting a Christian banner above an coalition?

6. What role should individual Christians play in politics?

7. Should a person’s beliefs about religion matter in politics?

8. What is the weakness of a belief system when people are forced to believe?

9. When Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything to reach the kingdom of heaven, why didn’t Jesus stop the rich young man when he walked away?

10. How right/wrong is it for Christians to boycott secular companies or products that don’t meet Christians standards?

11. Jerry Falwell has been attributed as once saying: “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.” Is there any context in which you would agree/disagree with the statement?

12. Is the Bible literal in every word, and if not, how do you know where it is metaphorical?

Foreword

1. Why do/don’t Christians have a right to tell non-believers how to live?

2. How important is doubt to faith?

3. Why should Christians fight for the separation of church and state?

4. Would Jesus suggest that Christians need to band together to form a political power?

5. What are the advantages/disadvantages of putting a Christian banner above an coalition?

6. What role should individual Christians play in politics?

7. Should a person’s beliefs about religion matter in politics?

8. What is the weakness of a belief system when people are forced to believe?

9. When Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything to reach the kingdom of heaven, why didn’t Jesus stop the rich young man when he walked away?

10. How right/wrong is it for Christians to boycott secular companies or products that don’t meet Christians standards?

11. Jerry Falwell has been attributed as once saying: “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.” Is there any context in which you would agree/disagree with the statement?

12. Is the Bible literal in every word, and if not, how do you know where it is metaphorical?

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Broken Angel 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Kelly_B More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed a good against evil escape story. Caitlyn was raised on the fringes of the hills of Appalachia which has been separated from the rest of the US as a nation of its own. The nation is dotted with closed off and controlled communities. Rules and horror stories keep people in line and a combination of technology and simplistic life style keep the people tightly controlled. Because Caitlyn is different, she has been protected by her father and kept at a safe distance from the communities. Because Caitlyn is different, she is not safe in Appalachia. As the story opens, you know Caitlyn is being hunted, but you aren't exactly sure why. The reason why became apparent to me very quickly, but I think that may be because of the type of novels I have read in the past. The story doesn't center around the why as much as the chase. The reader is introduced to several characters who by circumstances will join Caitlyn on her journey. We are also introduced to some characters who are out to get Caitlyn and anyone who gets in the way. What I liked was the very story idea. I do wish that the book went a little deeper into the nation of Appalachia and its leader as I found it very interesting. I also really enjoyed the characters that helped Caitlyn. I would love to go into detail, but I don't want to spoil a thing! The story moved quickly. It was definitely a book I didn't want to put down. I began it before bed and finished it the following afternoon. It obviously left you with some unanswered question which is to be expected as it is the first in a series.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Fundamentalists run Appalachia with a strict interpretation of the Words. Reading is prohibited and anyone caught breaking this deadly sin is sent to hard labor at the factories or if blessed stoned to death. To those in charge, truth does not matter confession whether by torture or drugs count. Few dare try to flee to 'Outside', as being caught is worse than surviving.---------- Caitlyn has an unacceptable growth on her back that marks her. When she was six, Jordon her Papa had it secretly removed by an Outsider surgeon who happened to be working at the clinic however, as that doctor warned Papa, it grew back. Now a young adult, Caitlyn is afraid as the Elders are coming for her and her beloved Papa because she is different and somehow they have found out about her. Papa orders Caitlyn to flee for the Outside she weeps, but obeys knowing she will never see him in this life again. The Elders and others chase after the disfigured female some want her dead while some see her as something else. With help from two traveling companions she met and an underground railroad, Caitlyn continues to elude her adversaries, but the enemies are growing in number and strength leaving her to wonder if Outside is safe.------------ The cast makes this a superb Christian suspense thriller as Caitlyn is a terrific lead player and the secondary and tertiary characters are fully drawn with many containing secret agendas. Fans will root for Caitlyn¿s run to freedom to be successful as Sigmund Brouwer makes a strong case that extremism especially religious is dangerous and anti-Christian there is plenty of room for all people inside God¿s tent. Genre readers will place BROKEN ANGEL on their short list for best Christian suspense thriller of the --------------year. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lovethis book! I may be a guy but when i read the first book i was like woah! A very gripping book i admit
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imagine a world in the not too distant future, with a truly dystopian big-brother-is-watching type of society. Add in a caste-like system in the new city-states in the United States, and a government sponsored, human genetic manipulation program. Now imagine that there is a sovereign theocratic "country" bordered by these city-states and you get just a hint of the setting for Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer. Broken Angel is the first in Caitlyn Brown series and focuses on the life of a young girl. Caitlyn knows that she is different and honestly believes this difference is due to her physical deformities. Her father, Jordan, has kept her relatively isolated but knows that she must venture "outside" Appalachia to receive the medical assistance she requires. The only things that can potentially stop their escape to "the outside" are the bounty hunters on their trail. Jordan forces Caitlyn to run by herself, hoping that she'll stick to the map he's provided and his instructions. He hopes to lay a false trail giving her time to get as far away as possible. After Jordan is captured, Sheriff Mitch Carney acknowledges that all is not as it should be in his small town. People are required to carry vidpods (presumably similar to iPods) at all times to receive special notices and bulletins from their leader, Bar Elohim. Each town in Appalachia is limited in size to three thousand people, because smaller towns are easier to control. Cars are few and far between due to government fuel rationing. In addition, cars are equipped with monitoring devices so that the religious leadership can determine where a vehicle has been and/or monitor all conversations. There are no phones, no televisions and no contact with the outside. There is a death penalty for reading, owning books or teaching others to read. Horses and some people are chipped so that the leadership knows where they are or can track their movements. Casper Pierce is a government agent from the outside sent into Appalachia to capture Caitlyn. He is assisted by a local bounty hunter and thug, Mason Lee. Pierce and Lee don't get along at all and the situation is exasperated when Pierce intentionally injures Lee to make a point. Deputy Bill Jasper has always done as told and the leadership told him to begin working as a deputy. He doesn't know why exactly but goes with the flow. Unfortunately Billy gets caught between Caitlyn and some bounty hunters and reluctantly joins her in her quest to reach the "outside." Theo is another runaway, a visually impaired, that is running from the harsh treatment received as part of his sentence to work in the factory. The idea of genetic modification is hinted at throughout the story, but I felt that the primary focus was on providing the groundwork for the next installment in this series. Broken Angel is a well-crafted dystopian read that openly discusses the problems with religion as a force majeure. The characters are all well developed. It's difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys for a while but it is important to take each person at face value because circumstances change rapidly and someone that might start off in a bad light becomes heroic. There's a lot going on in this story and the subplots often overlap, but this never causes any confusion. Broken Angel starts a little slow but quickly picked up and kept me engaged until the end.
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ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer is the first of two books featuring Caitlyn Brown in a dystopian world where she has something that many people are willing to kill her for. Caitlyn was raised in the religious community of Appalachia by her father Jordan. The community is run by Bar Elohim and kept under tight control, where everyone's actions and constantly recorded on vidphone and no one is allowed to read, especially the Bible. She is long used to uncomfortable stares and being called a freak by others for the hunch on her back and her unusually long fingers. Now her body seems to be going through some new changes, which makes Jordan decide to act. The government has sent agent Carson Pierce into Appalachia to find Caitlyn and Jordan and return them for mysterious reasons. Pierce hires Mason, well-feared within Appalachia, as a bounty hunter to track the girl down, and when she slips through his fingers again and again, Mason begins to take it personally. But Jordan has had a plan in place since Caitlyn was born that someday, that he would someday need to get her to the outside world, where she would be safe, but the secrets that he has kept from his daughter, just may separate them permanently. Brouwer has written a book that is almost impossible to classify. It's filled with adventure, action, thrilling suspense, faith, coming of age, dystopia, and plenty of mystery. Mason is a terrifying villain with a tendency of brutal violence, and the closer he comes to Caitlyn, the faster the pages turn. The writing is excellent and will keep readers guessing as characters flip from villain to hero and back again and Brouwer's vision of the future has some frightening basis in reality. Yet, despite the darkness and the violence, Brouwer is careful to keep hope alive, something for the characters to fight and die for.
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BBreaderSJ More than 1 year ago
Interesting concept. Fairly well written and it kept me interested but the ending - or lack thereof was a let down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, I really wanted to like this book but I found it was just "okay" for me. I love the concept but it almost felt like a rough draft or a manuscript...not fully fleshed out. I would have loved to learn more about the characters, their thoughts and feelings, the reasoning behind their actions. I felt as if I knew each character so superficially that it was difficult in the first two-thirds of the book to keep many of the secondary characters straight in my head as I was reading. More dialogue between the characters would have helped me feel as if I knew and understood them better. Overall I just felt that lack of detail kept me from enjoying this book as much as I would have liked.
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raesv1 More than 1 year ago
Very exciting book about Appalachia of the future where relgion imprisons the mind and body. Reading and books are not allowed and stonings are an every day occurance. A very special girl arrives and nothing will ever be the same. Action, mystery, horror, and scifi all rolled into one.