Title: Spectacularly Broken
Author: Sage C. Holloway
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages
At a Glance: To sum up: Lysander was completely FABULOUS. Cai was a beautiful soul. And together, they felt real, and…right.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Turns out naked and hungover on the floor is not the most strategically sound place to be when your dad comes home early. Take it from someone who learned the hard way: nineteen-year-old Lysander Shepherd–son of movie stars, spoiled brat, enthusiastic proponent of drugs and orgies…and now, unwilling resident of Oak Hill Manor, a retreat for troubled teenagers.
Before he knows what’s happening, his designer duds have been switched for tie-dye shirts in therapy team colors, and he is surrounded by an assortment of misfits: a timid nerd, a mute girl, a hyperactive kid…and captivating loner Cai Fields, who is admittedly pretty hot, but seems to hate the world in general and Lysander in particular.
Soon Lysander struggles with lies, withdrawal, and several uncomfortable revelations that he never intended to make, but he also gains surprising amounts of support right in the middle of secret late-night parties, fisticuffs over doing the dishes, and, of all things, croissant blackmail. Even as Cai and Lysander finally give in to the irresistible attraction between them and make a grasp for happiness, their darkest secrets remain–secrets with the power to destroy everything they’ve fought so hard to have.
Review: Spectacularly Broken was another pleasant surprise during my Memorial Day weekend reading. Based on the blurb, I really expected this book to be a ride on the Angst Train, but that wasn’t at all the case. There was some drama, sure, and some very heavy subject matter, but it was so much more than that. The author did an excellent job of mixing quite a bit of levity in with the heavy, making the overall feel much less dark than I feared.
In the beginning, Lysander comes off as a brat – plain and simple. Massive sense of entitlement, partnered with severe abandonment issues, is certainly a recipe for disaster. So, when he’s told by his father that he is headed to Oak Hill Manor to get his shit together, of course his attitude is less than fabulous. He goes to meet his cousin Finn, who has hit a rough patch of his own and is also headed there, and they cook up a little extra trouble along the way.
Things at Oak Hill Manor are very Breakfast Club-ish, but in a good way. The characters in Lysander’s group are good eggs, and the author does a great job of letting us gradually get to know them through their time at the Manor. I loved the team-building exercises, which really helped the group open up to each other, as well as the way the therapy sessions were portrayed.
Lysander and one of the members of his group, Cai, initially butt heads, but soon come to an understanding and learn to see past the chip they each have on their shoulders. I love the chemistry between these guys, and everything about their romance. There is a big secret between them that threatens their relationship, and contributes to the major conflict at the end of the book – you’ll have to read it to find out what that is! – but in spite of that secret, the relationship really is built on a solid foundation of friendship, support for each other, and, yes, trust. I definitely found myself cheering for them.
I enjoyed the whole thing, but the last quarter of the book was especially gripping. The bonds that Lysander has formed with Finn, as well as with his new friends from the Manor, come into play in a major way, and it was really moving to see them all pull each other up when they needed it. Lysander and his dad also begin to come to an understanding about how things got so messed up between them, and try to figure out how to start making reparations, which was a very emotional and genuine part of the story.
To sum up: Lysander was completely FABULOUS. Cai was a beautiful soul. And together, they felt real, and…right. Sage C. Holloway built some fantastic characters, threw in some real emotions, and wrote a story that I would absolutely recommend to friends. Was this really her first novel?? Amazing debut. I’ll be on the lookout for her next one.
You can buy Spectacularly Broken here: