Break by Hannah Moskowitz

Authored by a senior in high school, this debut novel would make a veteran author proud.  Jonah worries about a lot.  He worries about his parents, worries about the fact his baby brother cries all the time, but most of all he worries about his younger brother, Jessie, who is severe and life-threatening allergies.  After being hurt in a car accident, Jonah has started trying to break every bone in his body to make himself stronger.  He is helped by his best friend, Naomi, who films him breaking his bones.  As Jonah moves deeper and deeper into pain and breaking, the question is who is worrying enough about Jonah to help him.

The characterization here is nicely done, capturing the stress, fear and worry of being a teen as well as the dysfunction of mental illness.  Moskowitz also excels at dialogue, offering very authentic back and forth between the teens.  Jonah is a complex character, struggling with an affliction that he can’t admit to almost anyone and seeing himself though the lens of being normal. It creates a powerful dichotomy. The author also captures Jonah’s mental illness without alienating him from readers.

My only problem with the novel is the ending.  The first three-quarters of the book are taut and fascinating.  In the end, the novel starts to unravel losing its believability in action that never quite reaches a climax worthy of the previous writing.  That said, the book is still worth reading.

Start this book when you have time because it is very hard to put down.  An immersive experience that teens will really respond to, this novel is appropriate for 14-17 year olds.