by Julie HaleJuly, 2005
Broken as Things Are
Witt's accomplished debut novel is sure to charm fans of contemporary Southern fiction. Matter-of-factly recounted by Morgan-Lee, a 14-year-old girl growing up in North Carolina, this moving narrative chronicles her close relationship with Ginx, the troubled older brother she adores. Ginx, who is 15, speaks in riddles a strange sort of discourse only Morgan-Lee can decipher and his psychological problems threaten to tear the family apart. In the wake of Ginx's illness, Morgan-Lee's fragile mother retreats to her bedroom; her kind-hearted father also lacks the strength to act. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Dana, has escaped permanently, it seems to an aunt's house. As the novel unfolds, Ginx's obsessive, overbearing love for Morgan-Lee is slowly revealed, and when she falls for her friend Billy, he becomes dangerously jealous, acting out in a violent manner that alters their lives forever. The intensity of the siblings' relationship can't be sustained, and Witt leads her characters to a bittersweet conclusion. This is a poignant portrait of children trying to make sense of the adult world as they cope with feelings they can't quite comprehend. Wonderfully original, Witt's novel is at once delightful and disturbing, a deeply satisfying coming-of-age tale written in the perfectly pitched dialect of a Southern teen. A reading group guide is available online at www.picadorusa.com.