rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
rachelmanija ([personal profile] rachelmanija) wrote2010-09-26 10:06 am

Break, by Hannah Moskowitz

This book required the creation of a new tag, "bad medicine." God knows many books have merited it in the past, but none more than this one. It is also the only book I've ever read which would have been improved by adding more vomit.

Teenage Jonah is on a quest to break every bone in his body, filmed by his friend Naomi (whose implausibilities as a character only begin with her nickname being "Nom") on the theory that they'll grow back stronger and thus demonstrate to his beyond-dysfunctional family that healing is possible.

His brother Jesse, whom Jonas is massively protective of, is deathly allergic to everything, including all forms of milk. Including breast milk. Even if all he does is touch it or inhale a vaporized drop of it. Their parents have cleverly had a new baby, whose very existence, feeding as he does on deadly milk, is a life-threatening risk to Jesse.

Jonah eventually lands in a mental hospital, where the inmates are so awed by him that they too begin breaking their bones, as does a hospital volunteer. The volunteer also breaks him out so that the final and utterly random plot twist and implausible "everything's fine now" resolution can occur.

I could continue with the plot, but it will be easier to note down the implausibilities.

- Jonas breaks something like thirty bones, over the course of one year, in seven or eight separate incidents. Many of these are large, important bones, such as arms, legs, ribs, and jaw. He should never have gotten out of rehab at all, but somehow manages to continue school and be well enough to break more bones in skateboarding "accidents." I refer you to [personal profile] truepenny's journal (page down a bit) for a vivid account of how much impact breaking even a single significant bone has on one's life.

- From what I've heard from people who have actually done it, you will notice if you break your jaw, even if you have other injuries as well.

- If your jaw is wired shut, preventing you from eating solid food, you will be unable to carry on long, easy conversations for the rest of the book like nothing has happened.

- Jonah should be in so much pain that he is unable to concentrate in school, and should be on meds that will also interfere with his life. He should be in physical therapy. He should struggle with performing basic everyday tasks, getting up stairs, holding pens, and skateboarding. He should not be easily running around and being athletic, only pausing to be in pain when the author wants him to be emo.

- I can't believe I'm saying this, but the bone-breaking scenes are so incredibly unrealistic that they would have been improved with vomit.

- If Jonah is that obsessed with Jesse's health, he should know what Jesse's allergic to, rather than offhandedly saying, "Milk, bread, strawberries, and so much other stuff I can't remember it all."

- His parents are oblivious and uncaring about Jesse landing in the ER on the verge of death once a month, Jonah breaking nineteen bones in one year, and their baby being a constant threat to Jesse's life. I can buy bad parenting, but if you're going to depict parents as that abusive and crazy, they should be seen being abusive and crazy in general. In fact, they are largely absent from the story, and behave that way because otherwise there would be no story.

- Where is the money coming from to pay for all those bones and episodes of anaphylactic shock? If it's out of pocket, they should have long since been homeless. If it's insurance, why hasn't the insurance company noticed that something is up, despite Jonah "cleverly" going to a different hospital each time?

- Why does it take a year for the school to report the family to child protective services? Why does the psychiatrist who eventually talks to Jonah brush off his claim that his parents broke his bones, given that abuse is way more plausible than the real story?

Really terrible. It needed to be either completely over the top and explicitly non-realistic, or else way more understated. Also, not actually that entertaining, except for the hilariously over the top scene when Jesse touches the baby and keels over from milk poisoning. I only finished it out of incredulity and because it was so short.

Break
dragovianknight: A small kitten draped in green yarn (Default)

Re: This is so bad. This is so bad.

[personal profile] dragovianknight 2010-09-26 11:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, man, that is bad. *boggles*