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The Broken Places: A Novel

por Susan Perabo

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422476,474 (3.67)4
Susan Perabo's short-story collection, Who I Was Supposed to Be, was named a Best Book of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Boston Globe proclaimed the debut "a stunning introduction to a fresh new literary talent." Now Susan Perabo returns with The Broken Places, her eagerly anticipated novel about love and honor and how the aftermath of one terrifying night -- and one heroic act -- affects a close-knit family.Twelve-year-old Paul Tucker knows his family is something akin to royalty in small-town Casey, Pennsylvania. His father, Sonny, is a dedicated career fireman, in line for the position of chief, long held by Paul's late grandfather, a local legend whose heroics continue to occupy the hearts and minds of all who knew and worked with him. Paul's mother, Laura, is a math teacher at the high school; Paul is sometimes annoyed by her worries over him (and her apparent lack of worry over his father), but his life is generally untroubled, his future bright, his time measured by sport seasons.But on a windy October day, the collapse of an abandoned farmhouse forever alters the fates and perceptions of Paul, his family, and those closest to them. Sonny and the other Casey firemen attempt a dangerous rescue to reach a teenager buried under the rubble, and when Sonny himself is trapped by a secondary collapse, Paul, his mother, and the crowd of onlookers believe the worst. The wait is excruciating; it's baby Jessica all over again, but this time the "innocent victim" is sixteen-year-old Ian Finch, a swastika-tattooed hoodlum who may have brought the house down on himself while building bombs. Still, when Sonny emerges from the rubble hours later, the maimed teenager in his arms, the rescue becomes a minor miracle and a major public relations event, a validation of all things American and true. Sonny is immediately hailed as a national hero. And Paul's life is suddenly, and irrevocably, changed.Beyond the limelight, the parades, and the intrusion of the national media into a quiet and predictable life, the Tucker household balance is upset. And Ian Finch's curious and continued involvement in Sonny's life creates a new and troubling set of hurdles for Paul to overcome. Somehow, though his father has been saved, he continues to slip through Paul's fingers. Secrets, lies, and changing alliances threaten Paul's relationship with his father and his mother and his understanding of what holds a family -- and a town -- together.The Broken Places is a brilliant meditation on the psychology of heroism, the definition of family, and the true meaning of honor. With pitch-perfect dialogue, subtle but stunning insights, and a dazzling ability to uncork the quiet power of each character, Susan Perabo's The Broken Places uncovers and celebrates the unsettling truths of human nature.… (mais)
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What is a hero?
I decided I needed to open a Kindle app on my phone and add at least one book for occasions when I found myself with nothing to read. I'm not sure how The Broken Places came to be the one book, but it was a fortuitous choice.
I'd never heard of Susan Perabo, but I liked the way she wrote her male characters and her description of life in the fire service (US).

The story is told largely through the eyes of the fireman's son, twelve year old Paul, who idolises his father and waits for the day when he too, can join the fire service, following in the footsteps of both his father and his grandfather.

When an old building collapses, trapping Paul's father and the town trouble-maker deep underground, they are both forced towards an unforeseen fate. The repercussions are far-reaching and threaten to shatter Paul's entire family life and his relationship with his father.

Ms Perabo writes with fascinating insight into the nature of heroism and its flimsy veneers.
Several of Ms Perabo's books are compilations of short stories but I have managed to acquire a copy of The Fall of Lisa Bellow, which, apart from having a fabulous cover, looks like a gripping read. ( )
  DubaiReader | May 3, 2018 |
One dramatic night in a small Pennsylvania town changes the Tucker family forever. The story is told through the eyes of 12-year-old Paul Tucker, a typical seventh-grader, who worships his father, Sonny Tucker, a firefighter, along with all the rest of the residents of Casey, Pennsylvania. Sonny's own father had been the fire chief in Casey and is still talked about and revered for his uncommon bravery. The night in question, an abandoned farmhouse partially collapses, not a surprise to anyone, and the fire department is there mainly for crowd control and cleanup. The surprise is when some of the local teens inform the firemen that one of their own was in the basement of that house. The group of teens who tend to hang out in the basement of this old farmhouse are not jocks or nerds. Paul's mother, the ninth-grade math teacher at Casey High School, calls them "goners"; in other words, hoodlums. Ian Finch, the 16-year-old in the basement, even has a swastika tattooed on his back. But Sonny Tucker, stoic and brave, goes in for the rescue. What happens after that is heartbreaking. Paul is abruptly thrust into the adult world, a dark place, where he learns there are many different meanings for honor and family and love and how someone can be brave, yet not brave, and someone can be saved, but not really saved. Very good book with real-life characters and an interesting premise. ( )
  CatieN | Dec 4, 2011 |
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Susan Perabo's short-story collection, Who I Was Supposed to Be, was named a Best Book of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Boston Globe proclaimed the debut "a stunning introduction to a fresh new literary talent." Now Susan Perabo returns with The Broken Places, her eagerly anticipated novel about love and honor and how the aftermath of one terrifying night -- and one heroic act -- affects a close-knit family.Twelve-year-old Paul Tucker knows his family is something akin to royalty in small-town Casey, Pennsylvania. His father, Sonny, is a dedicated career fireman, in line for the position of chief, long held by Paul's late grandfather, a local legend whose heroics continue to occupy the hearts and minds of all who knew and worked with him. Paul's mother, Laura, is a math teacher at the high school; Paul is sometimes annoyed by her worries over him (and her apparent lack of worry over his father), but his life is generally untroubled, his future bright, his time measured by sport seasons.But on a windy October day, the collapse of an abandoned farmhouse forever alters the fates and perceptions of Paul, his family, and those closest to them. Sonny and the other Casey firemen attempt a dangerous rescue to reach a teenager buried under the rubble, and when Sonny himself is trapped by a secondary collapse, Paul, his mother, and the crowd of onlookers believe the worst. The wait is excruciating; it's baby Jessica all over again, but this time the "innocent victim" is sixteen-year-old Ian Finch, a swastika-tattooed hoodlum who may have brought the house down on himself while building bombs. Still, when Sonny emerges from the rubble hours later, the maimed teenager in his arms, the rescue becomes a minor miracle and a major public relations event, a validation of all things American and true. Sonny is immediately hailed as a national hero. And Paul's life is suddenly, and irrevocably, changed.Beyond the limelight, the parades, and the intrusion of the national media into a quiet and predictable life, the Tucker household balance is upset. And Ian Finch's curious and continued involvement in Sonny's life creates a new and troubling set of hurdles for Paul to overcome. Somehow, though his father has been saved, he continues to slip through Paul's fingers. Secrets, lies, and changing alliances threaten Paul's relationship with his father and his mother and his understanding of what holds a family -- and a town -- together.The Broken Places is a brilliant meditation on the psychology of heroism, the definition of family, and the true meaning of honor. With pitch-perfect dialogue, subtle but stunning insights, and a dazzling ability to uncork the quiet power of each character, Susan Perabo's The Broken Places uncovers and celebrates the unsettling truths of human nature.

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