Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Book review: The Broken by Tamar Cohen

"Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl’s schooling. How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model

Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides.

Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don't put you in danger.
Best friends don’t always stay best friends."

My review: 

Now, I hate to admit that before buying The Broken I hadn't heard of any of Tamar's previous books, nor read them. I know, I know. HOW?! (I'm saying that to myself now whilst furiously downloading her back catalogue!). During a browse in Waterstones the other week, I saw The Broken and was immediately intrigued by the blurb on the front cover - 'when close friends split, take care whose side you're on'. I then read the back blurb (as above) and before I knew it I'd paid for the book, taken it home and was snuggled on the sofa diving into this gripping story. 

The Broken follows two couples and very close friends (Dan and Sasha & Josh and Hannah) as they all feel the repercussion of one of the couples going through a split. The story starts with Dan telling his best friend, Josh that he is leaving his wife Sasha for a younger model. Stereotypical or what? Following this revelation the story flits between Hannah and Josh as they try to support their friends through a difficult and testing time, whilst also remaining neutral and not taking sides. Much easier said than done. 

As the couples made such a close foursome and each have a young daughter who are best of friends, it's hard for Hannah and Josh to take a step back and let Sasha and Dan deal with the fall-out of their sudden split. This is made even more difficult  as Dan is a pretty selfish person, relying on Josh to tell him what he is done is okay and not his fault (urm - really?). Then there's Sasha who is a very demanding person, constantly leaning on Hannah for support - sometimes more so than needed. She pushed my buttons immediately and really showed not only Hannah's patient and caring nature, but also that she is quite a pushover-  I was willing, practically shouting, for Hannah to just say NO to her, but Sasha is quite manipulative and so sometimes I don't even think Hannah realised that Sasha was, quite frankly, taking the piss and abusing her genuinely caring nature. 

I don't want to spoil the story as SO MUCH goes on that you find yourself reading as quickly as possible to find out how the story proceeds. What I will say is that Sasha's personality starts to unravel from the strain of the split and the feeling of inadequacy. We learn she had a difficult upbringing that has affected her, so when things start happening to Dan and his new girlfriend (such as a rock flying through their window, smashing glass everywhere) you start to wonder if Sasha is behind these events. She also begins to use her daughter as a pawn in the split, not allowing Dan to see her and making sure she spends lots of time with Hannah & Josh's daughter, flipping out if she gets invited to spend time with any other kids. Not only do you start to question Sasha's mind-frame, but you also begin to see the foursomes' actual friendship on display and how the dynamics aren't as perfect as they first appeared. Sadly, the cracks also begin to appear in Hannah and Josh's relationship because of the stress and strains of their friends situation and I was willing them on, hoping they'd get through it and not turn out like Dan and Sasha. 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Broken. It is a very real story that makes you wonder if this kind of thing happens more often than you'd think. It is has an unusual and intriguing take on friendships and Tamar's writing style has you hooked from the first page right through until the end. With each new event in the story I found myself further questioning each different character, unsure of what would happen next. And let me tell you, you are in for an absolute shocker! Right at the end is a stonking great twist that had me reeling. It had me gasping out loud and my other half raising a quizzical eyebrow as to what was going on. I couldn't believe it, and am still thinking about it now! 

If, like me, you haven't read anything by Tamar before then I urge you to change that immediately. Go buy The Broken, make sure you have plenty of free time to read it in as few sittings as possible (you won't want to put it down!), immerse yourself in a thrilling story with characters that make you react and respond with various emotions and a situation which simultaneously makes your toes curl and your mind whirl.  

Wow. Just wow. 

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