“Broken” by New York Times Bestselling author CJ Lyons is a young-adult thriller about Scarlet Killian, a fifteen-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare heart condition capable of killing her at any time. Scarlet must carry a portable AED with her at all times just in case her heart stops. Her overly protective parents have fought to keep her home, but Scarlet has decided she wants to be “normal” for just one week—and that means attending high school—even if it kills her.
During Scarlet’s first day at school, many of the students take an instant dislike to her. Still, she’s determined to continue on. Her mother threatens to end Scarlet’s experiment, but relents when Scarlet agrees to conditions intended to keep her safe.
As the week progresses, Scarlet’s determination mounts despite the growing animosity toward her. Fortunately, she does have a few friends, those who are also enrolled in a “peer support” group. Her friendship with the three other kids in peer support appears to be doomed, however, as their lives spiral out of control.
The character of Scarlet is a dramatic combination of physical weakness brought on by a life-long medical crisis, emotional frailty brought on by constant isolation, and an inner strength created by those very conditions. It’s Scarlet’s strength that drives this book forward to a dramatic conclusion in which Scarlet’s life will be changed forever. The portrayal of how kids treat each other in high school will be an eye opener for anyone unfamiliar with today’s school environments.
Lyons’ experience as an ER doctor shines through, adding credibility to Scarlet’s descriptions of her life. Pacing in “Broken” builds throughout with twists that are as natural as they are unexpected. No blood, guts, or gore, just solid tension from beginning to end.
FTC Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by its publisher.
The website for CJ Lyons is cjlyons.net.