Written by Robert Burke Warren
Published by Story Plant on March 8th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Family Life
A galley copy of Perfectly Broken was provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours to facilitate a review and participation in a promotional blog tour. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.
On first impression, Perfectly Broken reminded me of books like Greg Olear’s Fathermucker and Jonathan Tropper’s One Last Thing Before I Go–and since both of those are novels I liked very much, that was a selling point for me. The resemblance goes beyond the surface, but I want to stress that Robert Burke Warren’s debut novel didn’t feel at all derivative of the novels it reminded me of, and that was also a point in its favor.
At one level, Perfectly Broken is a novel of sex, drugs, and rock and roll–with a few twists:
- The sex is between married people–and occasionally, tragically, between people married to other people
- The drugs are mostly antidepressants and Ambien
- And the rock and roll peaked during the 1990s.
But this is also a novel of parents trying to do better than their parents did, and of adults trying to be grownups in the aftermath of 9/11.
Economic setbacks have sent semi-retired rock star turned stay-at-home dad Grant Kelly and his family out of the East Village to a small upstate New York town, where their better-off friends the Lamonts have offered them a house at cheap rent. His wife Beth lost their health insurance when she was let go from her magazine job–that has forced Grant to taper off his antidepressants, which is adding to the challenges of adjusting to their new living situation. He’s in the midst of struggling with a midlife identity crisis–and then things get worse.
That recap may make Perfectly Broken sound perfectly depressing…but I promise you it’s not. There’s a lot of emotion in this novel, but it also has a good sense of humor. Warren’s characters are well-drawn and appealing, and I was interested in getting to know them and seeing how they’d sort themselves out. I haven’t done a blog tour in quite some time, but Trish from TLC Book Tours totally had my number when she asked me if I’d be interested in this one–I might have missed it otherwise, and I’m glad I didn’t.
About Perfectly Broken
• Hardcover: 270 pages
• Publisher: Story Plant (March 8, 2016)
His rock star days may be behind him, but stay-at-home dad Grant Kelly’s life is getting more interesting by the day. It’s the beginning of the post-9/11 era, and he and his wife and four-year-old son have traded a New York City apartment for a Catskills farmhouse, where ghosts from the past, worries for the future, and temptations in the present converge to bring about drastic changes in their marriage, their friendships, and their family.
A gorgeously nuanced novel with unforgettable characters, Perfectly Broken is a story of human frailty, the endurance of the heart, and the power and possibility of forgiveness.
About Robert Burke Warren
Robert Burke Warren is a musician and writer whose work has appeared in Paste, Salon, The Bitter Southerner, The Good Men Project, The Rumpus, The Woodstock Times, Texas Music, Brooklyn Parent, Chronogram, The Weeklings, and the Da Capo anthology, The Show I’ll Never Forget. He lives in the Catskill Mountains with his family. This is his first novel.