From the author of Bleed Like Me, which Booklist called “edgy, dark, and turbulent with passion” comes a “gritty, honest portrayal of the road to recovery” (VOYA) and forbidden romance—starring a fearless, unforgettable heroine.
Natalie’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like getting in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.
Unfortunately, her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat stay sober.
But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life, and things start looking up. Joe is funny, he’s smart, and he calls her out in a way no one ever has.
He’s also older. A lot older.
Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming, but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a open bottle and erase that one thing she’s been desperate to forget.
Now, in order to make a different kind of life, Nat must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.
About the Author
C. Desir writes dark contemporary fiction for young adults. She lives with her husband, three small children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside of Chicago. She has volunteered as a rape victim activist for more than ten years, including providing direct service as an advocate in hospital ERs. She also works as an editor at Samhain Publishing. Visit her at ChristaDesir.com.
Read an Excerpt
Other Broken Things
I’d cut a bitch for a cigarette right now. Unfortunately, I’m sandwiched in the car between inflatable Santa and inflatable Frosty and the only person within striking distance is my mom.
“You sure you don’t want me to come in?” she asks as she tugs at her hand-knitted red-and-green striped hat. Mom is the mascot of the holiday season. Pretty sure she pees eggnog and her armpit odor is peppermint scented.
“It’s a closed meeting, Mom. I told you that. Only the alkies get to go. Not their moms. Plus you’ve got to finish decorating.”
My fingers curl in and out of my palm. Someone at the meeting has to have a smoke. Has to.
“I was looking online. There are some open meetings in the city. I could go with you to those.”
I wave my hand. “Mom. Stop. I’ll be fine. I went to a meeting every day in rehab. I know the drill. Pick me up in an hour.”
I shove Frosty to the side and push open the backseat door. Yes, I’m in the back. Like a toddler. The passenger seat has been taken up by inflatable Rudolph. I slide out and Mom turns down “Feliz Navidad” long enough to call out to me.
“Proud of you, Natalie. You’ve got this.”
I wave again, resisting the urge to give her the finger, and turn away so she doesn’t see my eye roll. Mom’s obviously fit time in her busy holiday schedule to read some of the Big Book—Alcoholics Anonymous’s bible to getting my shitty life together, told through a series of steps and stories of pathetic losers just like me. Jesus.
The brown building in front of me is nondescript with the letters SFC on a plaque in front. As I step up to the door, my hands shake a little. Not from the DT’s—you need to be way deeper down the rabbit hole than I ever got for delirium tremens—but from the whole business of it.
AA meetings are a requirement. Three times a week until I’m three months sober and then twice a week until I’m six months. Six months feels like for-fucking-ever at this point, but honestly, a month ago, six hours felt the same.
I pause outside the door and stare at the sign taped to the front. Meeting times, plus a plug about movie nights and a Sunday-morning pancake breakfast. There are three meetings every day. I can’t imagine going to that many meetings in a day. What the hell for? How many times does someone need to hear the Serenity Prayer?
I slide my hand in my coat pocket and finger the card inside. Go in, zone out, get your card signed. Drawing in a deep breath, I push through the entrance and am immediately hit by the smell of BO and burned coffee. I blink my eyes a few times to adjust to the light and see I’m in a hallway. A door on my right says FELLOWSHIP MEETING ROOM.
Another breath, this time through my mouth so I don’t have to deal with the BO stench. My heart is beating pretty hard. Even more than the first time I got in the boxing ring, a million years ago when I thought things were different.
There’s a long mirror on the side of the door, like we somehow might feel the need to check our appearance before going in to confess our drunken transgressions. My ridiculously curly hair is pulled back neatly in a band, my slapdash makeup job is miraculously holding up from this morning, and the rest of me looks Abercrombie solid. This is definitely my 12-step best, so I’m not sure why I’m stalling.
Somehow, walking into a meeting room felt easier at rehab. Probably because I had a nurse escorting me. I squeeze my eyes shut and grip the knob, pulling open the door. Wishing with everything I have for this not to be real.
The room smells too. Different, though. Like musty books and defeat. Yes, defeat has a smell. A distinct cigarette smell, with zero traces of alcohol. An old woman near the door looks up and smiles a little at me. A quick scan around the room shows three black dudes in conversation around the big table, an obviously drunk or hungover Hispanic dude with his head leaned against the back wall, and a white guy talking to a woman with red hair and a scowl on her face. The white guy looks up when I enter and nods at me.
No beaming smiles or welcoming committee here. No one’s happy to see me. They’re all dealing with the same shit. I’m another soldier who’s been drafted into the army of addiction. Hardly cause to celebrate. On the plus side, from the look of things, there’s no way anyone here is going to be digging that deep into my business, which means I won’t have to think—something I’ve gotten excellent at in the past month.
I unwind the scarf at my neck—hand-knitted by Mom, of course—and plop into a chair at the table. A quick glance at the clock shows I have five minutes before the meeting starts. I need to time this better. Or bring cigarettes next time so I can smoke beforehand. But I finished my last one this morning, sitting on my window ledge and watching Mom hang icicle lights. She frowned when she saw the cigarette, but didn’t say anything. She’s been on me about them since I got back, but she must have figured a lecture about them would have been less than welcome this morning.
The red-haired lady stands up from the table and approaches me. Ah. Meeting leader. I know by now talking to the newbies is part of their job.
“Kathy,” she says, sitting in the plastic chair next to me. “First meeting?”
“First meeting here. Not first meeting ever,” I mumble in response. Wonder if I could get her to sign my card now and then leave the meeting early. I give her a long look and realize she’s not the type to break rules. She’s got that hard-living look about her, and if she’s a meeting leader, she’s been in AA awhile now.
“Got a sponsor?” she asks.
“No. I’m just out of rehab.”
She nods and I catch the white guy watching us. Not even slyly. Just openly staring. I have an urge to flip him off, but I doubt it’ll earn me any brownie points and I have a card I need filled up.
“Take out your phone,” Kathy says. I pull out my cell and she snatches it from my hand like she’s going to confiscate it. Instead she presses some buttons and hands it back to me. “I’m in your contacts now. Call whenever.”
“Natalie,” I say.
She nods again and gets up. “Find a sponsor, Natalie. You’re too young to be in here.”
I almost roll my eyes, but that’d just be proving her point. I am too young. Seventeen. Way too young for rehab. Way too young for AA. It’s all sort of bullshit, but to say my parents are overprotective is an understatement. So here I am. Two days out of rehab, two months after a DUI, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about me, with a court card in my pocket, and wanting to beat the crap out of just about everyone.
Happy fucking holidays.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Like all of Desir's books, Other Broken Things touches on some really sensitive topics. In this book, she's tackling alcoholism and addiction. Natalie was a boxer, until her parents told her that she couldn't because that's not what women of their social status do. She went from fighting in the ring to drinking. She didn't realize that she had a problem. All of her friends did it, so why was it a problem for her? When she gets her DUI, she's sentenced to go to AA meetings for six months. Nat doesn't think she needs these meetings. She doesn't have a problem. Does she? At AA, Nat meets Joe. A WAY older man who helps her through her addiction. This was the only problematic thing I had with this book. The age gap was too big for my comfort and I was extremely uncomfortable reading their sexy scene. But, you see Nat learn to live with her addiction. You see her slip up like people in recovery do. Other Broken Things is yet another YA book that can help younger and even older readers go through what they're going through. I feel like this book could really save someone's life when it comes to drinking.
Original review @ 125Pages.com Other Broken Things kept me up till 2 a.m. and I’m not sad about that at all. This is the type of YA book I love. Smart and with a well defined sense of self, it wasn’t trying to hard to be edgy or cool. The world built was strong and the pacing was spot on. What made this a standout was the characters. Nat is perfection as a broken doll trying to repair herself and Joe is a reluctant hero. The supporting cast was strong, minus the parents who were just there. The two drunken best friends and the hook-up boyfriend add some nice comic relief, especially a scene in Red Lobster where the two drunk girls were stealing biscuits. I was surprised that the age difference between Nat and Joe did not squick me out. The way their relationship built so naturally made sense and by the end I was rooting for them to persevere. A book about a teen alcoholic forming a relationship with a man in his thirties is not a feel good light romp. I went into Other Broken Things knowing that. I also knew that if not done well, the story would be distasteful or ridiculous. I put the book down with a feeling of satisfaction as it was so well done. I have found that it is a rare author who can properly balance an addiction story and a love story and C. Desir is one that can. I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Read this in less than 24 hours. I absolutley loved it.
Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy). I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not effected by the book being free. I wanted to read Other Broken Things because I am drawn to tough stories, the teens with issues, and a recovering alcoholic as such a young adult. Nat is dealing with adult issues, the pressure of bad decisions breathing down her neck, and in court ordered AA meetings and trying to turn her life around doesn't make it any easier that her old group of friends aren't supportive, and only wants party girl wild Nat back. And then there is also the forbidden romance aspect when she meets a much older guy, but one who seems to get her. Natalie is in AA and it's because she was she got a DUI. She has attitude and she is kind of apathetic to the whole thing at first. She's being forced to go to the meetings and she makes that pretty clear.Her mom is driving her to and from her meetings and trying to talk to her about it so it takes a but to get a handle on their relationship. Natalie seems to think that she doesn't care and that she has been wronged but she also did a lot of partying and made some bad decisions so I wasn't really sure how that dynamic actually was. Her ex boyfriend is still trying to flirt with her and initiate physical things with her but she also slaps him with a lot of the blame that she took him home and if she didn't she wouldn't have drove the car into the stop sign because she would have been at the party even longer. but we know from the description of the book that she is going to have attraction and chemistry with an older guy so we knew that the ex wasn't going to play into things a whole lot. Things with him they were complicated Natalie wanted to flirt with him and I think she wanted that relationship but he was more interested in really helping her and being a role model and helping Her to get and stay sober and stay on the program As the book went on i began to realize how much of an all or nothing sort of girl that Natalie is. we also realize more about her past and that boxing used to be a big part of it and as she is getting sober she's beginning to realize how much that she really misses it, she wants the feel of hitting the punching bags or getting into the ring. But when she decided to start drinking and partying more than she wanted to box that is when she dropped That passion. She also becomes close with another adult in the AA program named Kathy. Kathy was tough and supportive and truthful all of the same time and that's it is kind of personality types that Natalie really needed. I know that some people needed cuddling or some people need their hands held by Natalie really just needed to be challenged and held accountable and made to look at things in the harsh light of reality. I really love the character development in this one. Natalie begins to realize a lot about her life and limits on the how to let her mom in and when to Start becoming the young adults and she is and taking responsibility for what she needs to. I like that she keeps her personality that she doesn't become a rule follower or someone who just goes along with what someone else. But she keeps her strong woman quality, but realizes she has to put in hard work to be the kind of person deep down she has always wanted to be. I liked where it left her. She had accepted she had problems,.She formed relationships, and ca