“Like Broken China” is the story of a young woman divorcing her alcoholic husband. Right there should be the only trigger warning you need if people dealing with addiction or divorce isn’t something you enjoy. Personally, I thought this book was not only a quick little page turner, with a sort of cozy feel thanks to the sarcastic way the main character tells the story, but I also found the subject matter important. Too often this kind of story focuses on the rebound that these women go through when they leave their bad husbands, or the story focuses on meeting a new guy, not so with Thompson’s book. Instead we get to see why Courtney fell in love with an alcoholic to begin with, and how his disease destroyed their marriage, as well as what it’s like for a young mother of two to get out of that toxic situation before she can even attempt to start her life over.
I’ll start by saying this book is very uncomplicated, so my review doesn’t need to be very long unlike some of my other recent reviews. That doesn’t mean this book is bad because of simplicity, I genuinely enjoyed “watching” Courtney struggle and getting that glimpse of what it’s like to live with an alcoholic, and what it took for Courtney to have finally had enough. It would have been nice if Thompson took that opportunity to have her character go to therapy and show perhaps a healthier way for someone to cope with that kind of situation, but the story didn’t suffer for it so I’ll let it go. But the subject matter is heavy, and while some people find that depressing, I found it real and authentic, and that’s why I felt this was a pretty important story, especially for people that are dealing with a similar experience. But because Courtney has a sort of light hearted / sarcastic way of recounting her marriage and the things that came after, it never felt overly heavy and it made “Like Broken China” an enjoyable read! For the most part.
Towards the end the POV got a little muddled because instead of it just being a flashback where the reader is experiencing one of Courtney’s past traumatic experiences with her husband Matt, or witnessing how the two fell in love to begin with, Thompson includes things like “I’d later learn…” and while not a major thing, it did muddle the timelines a bit for me. Additionally, Courtney doesn’t often feel like the big sister she is supposed to be. She feels a bit weak and lost, and it started to get frustrating. I wanted to shake her and say, “Stop it! Grow up!” and she does at the very end (I loved how the last chapter ended, but more on that in a moment), but it took until the very end for that to happen. I also started to grow a bit tired of the prophetic chapter endings. A few times is great! Having something like “In the end I learned the hard way that the heart can be wrong. Love isn’t always enough. And no amount of it could make Matt someone he is not” just started feeling forced after a while. I think another round of read throughs would have cleaned up the POV, tightened Courtney’s character arc / growth, and caught the few grammatical errors. Still, none of that ever detracted from the quick read this was, and I still enjoyed it even through my frustration.
Like I said, I enjoyed the last chapter and how the story concluded a great deal. Due to the heavy subject matter of this book, I was worried that things wouldn’t end well. I won’t tell you how things do end in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say that I felt satisfied and happy with the ending and that is partly because Thompson focuses on showing the reader the struggle Courtney goes through with trying to deal with Matt’s alcoholism, raise two toddlers, balancing selling her home, her job as a dental secretary, and following her dreams to one day be an art teacher. You want Courtney to “win” so to speak because she has been through so much, even as a kid dealing with a father who abandoned her and her sister. So never fear about the depressing subject matter, the book doesn’t end leaving the reader feeling like they need to drown their sorrow in a tub of ice cream. But even though I loved the ending and the quirky way the story is told from Courtney’s POV, the issues I mentioned above keep me from giving this a full 5 stars. I’d say more a 4.25 because it’s definitely above a 4 but still… However, I definitely enjoyed this book and recommend it to most adults, especially those who have some experience with these kinds of things. The read does tend to be cathartic and that is oh so necessary! And thanks to the author for providing me a copy for review!
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