I’m all aboard the I-hate-kindles train and truly believe you can’t be a proper physical book, but there’s no denying their convenience. Especially when you read as fast as I do and you’re going on holiday- packing seven books in hand luggage just isn’t really doable. But I wasn’t going on holiday this week. In fact, last weekend I didn’t go anywhere, so I decided I would give into my craving of a proper book- with actual pages!
I really wasn’t up for venturing any further from my house than the local park, so my book-purchasing locations were limited to my local Tesco. I had actually gone with the intention of buying another book (you’ll read about that next week!) but they didn’t have it. Determined to go ahead with my plans of reading in the park, I decided the selection would have to do. I saw The Break, and remembered hearing about it on Dolly Alderton’s podcast Love Stories when she interviewed Marian herself. Now, I trust pretty much anything Dolly likes, so I was more than happy to pick it up.
It was clear from the very start that Keyes just gets people. I instantly knew the characters and could hear their voices and see their faces from the moment I started reading. This familiarity meant I immediately invested in them. I was instantly defensive of Amy, and the flashbacks to her former life only intensified my empathy. It was very apparent that she didn’t really have her life together, but she got by perfectly well, boosted by the strength she had gained along her journey through life. I liked this about her; she was relatable and imperfect, like all the best characters.
What Keyes does so well is portraying human nature, showing that feelings change and so do people- especially when their husbands announce that they’re leaving for six months. This meant that I wasn’t Amy’s biggest fan for the entirety of the narrative. Yes, I understood that she was doing the best with what she had given the circumstances– and there’s no denying the hardships she goes through with Neeve and Sofie– but, probably because I was rooting for her and Hugh to work, I got incredibly frustrated with her at times. Even when she was at her happiest- or so she thought.
I found myself willing the traffic to just be a little worse, or wishing my lunch break would last just a little bit longer, just so I could read a few more pages. I had a feeling everything would sort itself out, but I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to happen. And each time I thought I had figured out how it would unfold, another speed bump appeared and delayed my expectations.
For the most part, I found The Break highly amusing – the way Keyes captures how families interact is second to none, and actually reminded me a little of my own family. Amy’s father is a particularly funny character. However, I also had my fair share of tears- especially towards the end of the narrative, which certainly distracted from the sweltering conditions on the bus journey home. It was the first time in a while a book had made me feel that much, and I really loved it.
The ending, though not 100% conclusive, left me satisfied- which doesn’t happen often (do I just have really high standards?). I would absolutely recommend The Break to anyone who just wants a book they can get into; a narrative that they can invest in. Go read it!