Broken for You
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National best seller and Today show Book Club selection, Broken for You is the story of two women in self-imposed exile whose lives are transformed when their paths intersect. Stephanie Kallos's debut novel is a work of infinite charm, wit and heart. It is also a glorious homage to the beauty of broken things. When we meet septuagenarian Margaret Hughes, she is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. As their tentative friendship evolves, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to the younger woman. This launches a series of unanticipated events, leading Margaret to discover a way to redeem her cursed past, and Wanda to learn the true purpose of her cross-country journey. Both funny and heartbreaking, Broken for You is a testament to the saving graces of surrogate families and shows how far the tiniest repair jobs can go in righting the world's wrongs.

Customer Reviews:

  • Broken, then put together better
    Stories of lonely people who develop a network of friends who become family, always seem to touch me. In this one, an elderly woman finds out she doesn't have long to live and decides to change her life. What a novel idea! She decides to bring borders into her mansion and begins to build her new family. In this case, I thought the string of linkages and coincidental events is a bit contrived. But I still enjoyed the story immensely from start to end. ...more info
  • Broken? Ties up a little too nicely...
    I may be in the minority of reviewers here, but I found this novel to be tedious and contrived. Kallos appears to be attempting epic greatness, but what resulted for me was a mess that wraps up all too neatly. She takes on several plotlines, none of which are covered in a satisfying or even adequate way. Yet by the end of the novel, I was ready for it to be over.

    Her characters are unique, however I found them (especially Margaret and Wanda) to be quirky to the point that they no longer made sense. For example, Margaret's transition from a recluse to a mother-figure was rushed and unrealistic. I felt that in many points during the novel Kallos sacrificed real human emotion for the sake of creating memorable characters. In spite of these characters eccentricities and altogether weird behavior, they all get along as though life were an after-school special. I would've liked to see a little conflict.

    Although I thought this book was flawed, Kallos shows potential. Her prose is beautifully poetic. A smaller scope and more believable characters would be a better fit to her writing style. Until then, I expect to see a film version of Broken for You. No doubt it will be the "feel good movie of the year"....more info
  • Smashingly good?
    I wanted to like this book. I intended to like it. But something rang false about the whole premise. It felt like I was watching a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, where all the sensitive, artistic -- yet damaged -- people come together in a nice supportive commune, eating off of mismatched china (a metaphor to clobber you over the head) to heal each other. Ick. There's Margaret, a terribly lonely, dying woman with a tragic past, rattling around her Seattle mansion, talking to all the precious objets d'art. She's also a woman of unlimited financial resources, and it is hard to believe a dame this loaded would be left all by her lonesome with no friends at all (or any domestic staff). Unless they go bonkers, like Howard Hughes, the very wealthy people of this world are subjected to the constant demands of clinging human sponges. Oh, wait -- the clinging human sponges show up in this book eventually, in the guise of caring friends. Caring friends who are Sensitive and Artistic and Damaged. Ick. They all move into the mansion, 'cause they care about Margaret so much, and because she's unbelievably wealthy. Don't get me started on Wanda the Basket Case. I couldn't make myself like her at all. And finally, my pet peeve of this book: WHY do they have to smash all the incredibly valuable pieces of china and porcelain? If Margaret is so consumed with guilt over her father's thievery, couldn't she just SELL all of the pieces and donate the proceeds to the National Holocaust Museum or to some other worthy cause that would have annoyed her father? Why do all these carefully crafted antique objects have to be smashed to bits and made over into Wanda's idea of art? Hmmm... No, it just didn't work for me. The only character I really loved was Margaret's dead mother, and I have the impression that I wasn't supposed to like her. Well, gee. I tried. I seem to be the only person unable to appreciate this novel! ...more info
  • One of the loveliest stories I have ever read.
    This is one of my favorite books of all. This book goes beyond storytelling and speaks deeply to the reader. I still pull it off my shelf to reread my favorite passages. This book has a lot of wisdom in it....more info
  • book
    This book was not my kind of book, so i did not enjoy it....more info
  • Not as good as I was hoping, but not bad.
    This book had a VERY slow start. I did not start finding it very interesting until I got through almost 200 pages! The end was FANTASTIC! All but two of the people who belong to my book club, finished it. They could not get through all the details. The story really does blossom into something interesting later. I was proud that I finished it. I would not read it again. It is also a very unrealistic story. The details in the book are a little to ironic....more info
  • Not at all what I expected
    I loved this book. It kept coming up with more surprises. It veered one when when I expected it to go another way. It's heartwarming and being Jewish, I was pleasantly surprised and saddened by the nature of Margaret's collection. Definitely two thumbs up!...more info
  • We're all broken in one way or another.
    Kallos' debut novel is a delight to read. The characters are all quirky and loveable, and are all wounded in one way or another. Their lives intertwine when 70-year old Margaret, a lonely rich woman living in a huge Seattle mansion, is diagnosed with a brain tumor. She makes a decision about how to live out the short remainder of her life, which brings all of these wounded souls together as a surrogate family.

    One of these wounded souls, a young artist named Wanda, discovers the healing art of mosaic making. Through Wanda we discover that these broken souls, like the valuable knick knacks that she breaks for use in her mosaics, are more interesting and beautiful broken than they were whole.

    A great read that stays with you long after you put it down....more info
  • Beautiful. Memorable.
    I loved this book. Although not wholly realistic, I found the characters engaging and lovable. The story was so tenderly written it was sweet without being overly sacchrine. I could feel my heart aching during several particularly touching passages and there were a few that returned to read again and again. ...more info
  • Wonderful
    The characters in this book are so real, and there situations are so full pain and love and discovery and irony that you are sucked in to the book so fast its impossible to escape from. I read this in one sitting, foresaking sleep, its that good.

    This is a must read!...more info
  • Beautiful & Complicated...

    I did not know what to expect from this novel when it first began, two very damaged women coming together trying to salvage the pieces of their lives...well, at least one of them was. Margaret, a 75 year old woman who has lived in self-imposed seclusion for over 20 years, when she finds out that she has a brain tumor and is not expected to live longer than a year, two at the most, she decides that it is time to do things differently. Margaret decides that she wants to take in a border, she has a huge mansion with ten out of eleven bedrooms going to waste and with only her porcelain knickknacks for company she feels it is finally time to shake things up a bit.

    Enter Wanda Shultz, a woman who is completely content to let the broken pieces of her life remain that way. She has traveled cross country in search of a man who no longer wants her and refuses to let anybody else get close to her, not even Margaret, until a tragic accident changes everything for both women.

    Margaret soon decides that she wants to take in more borders, expanding this books already charming cast of characters. And soon Margaret gets what she thought she'd never have again, a family.

    'BROKEN FOR YOU' is a complicated novel with many characters (although they are not hard to keep track of at all) and many themes. Kallos expertly deals with the grief, suffering, obsession, abandonment, love, hope, forgiveness and redemption that each of these characters experience all the while writing a well crafted novel that will not only make the reader think, but also connect emotionally with each and every character in the book. 'BROKEN FOR YOU' is the kind of novel that will stay with you for years to come. Buy it in hardcover, you will want to keep this one!...more info
  • Utter crap
    I read the whole thing, and I can report: big waste of time. Shockingly bad ending. Forced, treacly, laughably manipulative. ...more info
  • This book shows that goodness can come out of dispair.
    I loved this book. Margaret would have all the reasons not to want to live but finds a way to live on even after her death. She overcomes not only the death of her son, but the fact that her families wealth was built off of the holacost. I not only loved the characters, but the way the author weaved their past lives into the present. Margaret not only saved herself in the end but the lives of all that encountered her. This was a great read. I could not wait to get home at the end of the day and see what Tink had broken and made whole....more info
  • Alright, I guess
    First of all this is not my kind of book so I don't want to be too tough,
    The beginning of the book was good, Margaret and Wonda were interesting characters. Towards the middle there were too many characters--dull to say the least--and i thought other than Wanda they had no purpose in the story. Such a dramatic action --breaking the Halocoust treasures I found inane. I was waiting for a stronger climax that would enlighten me as a private aha to the deliberate breakage of the items robbed from the victims of such an atrocity years ago. Broken pieces as the members of the house, or was it the victims themselves, well that wasn't strong enough for me.
    Also, the book could have been shorter--the extra characters were fullers
    for the original story line. Margaret and Wonda, who were lonely and broken individuals and the story begins----...more info
  • Gives a New Meaning to the Word "Family"
    Stephanie Kallos gives a new definition of, and some insightful lessons into the meaning of the word "family" in this wonderfully unusual novel.

    Margaret Hughes lives alone in a beautiful mansion, filled with beautiful, rare, and often priceless artifacts. After a horrible loss and failed marriage, these artifacts: porcelain tea sets, rare and exquisite dinnerware sets, figurines and other beautiful items bequeathed to her by her father, become her only friends, and at the same time the source of her greatest shame - due to their origins.

    When Margaret discovers that she has a very serious illness, she decides it is time to re-enter the world and bring other people into her life, but her way of doing so is with a bit of distance - she chooses to take a boarder into her mansion.

    After several interviews, she chooses Wanda, a young theatrical manager who seems to carry the hurt of many lifetimes on her shoulders, asks few questions, and offers little information about her origins - simply, the perfect roommate for Margaret.

    As their friendship develops and the story behind Margaret's house of treasures unfolds, we also learn why Wanda holds her heart in a viselike grip of protection. Both of their stories are equally heart-wrenching and completely absorb the reader.

    Running concurrently with Wanda and Margaret's story, we learn about the family member who left Wanda behind and how his life has been changed forever by the actions of his past.

    Wanda, with the help of Margaret, finds a new vocation in the creation of mosaics in a most unusual form, with an even more unusual medium. As Wanda opens up to the world, so does Margaret, and more boarders and relationships develop, until her house of treasures becomes a home filled with family in the most accurate sense of the word.

    The wonderful blending of history, the ugliness of the Holocaust in contrast to the beauty of how Margaret and Wanda turn this ugliness into art, make this book a wonderfully interesting novel. Simply excellent and very thought provoking, with wonderfully flawed, yet lovable characters, "Broken for You" will definitely be on my book club list. ...more info
  • I loved these broken, beautiful characters
    Once in a while, a novel comes along with characters so wonderfully written that we actually miss them when the story is over, and take the book down from the shelf again and again, just to visit with them once more. "Broken For You" is one of these. It starts off primarily as the story of Margaret, an eccentric seventy-something determined to live life to the fullest, now that she knows she doesn't have a lot of life left, and fragile Wanda, badly wounded by heartbreak and seemingly unable to love again. However, the cast of characters soon expands to include several other "broken" people whose lives are somehow touched by these two women, and their stories intertwine with one another as circumstances bring them together to heal and form a new kind of family.

    We get to know each of these people as they cross paths with Margaret and Wanda, and as we do, we also grow to care deeply about them. There's Gus, the charming Scottish valet who steals Margaret's heart, and sweet Troy, who would love to love Wanda. Their entrances into the story are followed by those of the dignified nanny Susan, who longs for a child of her own, and loveable gay caterer Bruce, whose new role in Susan's life is introduced toward the end of the book and just may make you gasp aloud in delight, as I did. Then there is the lonely drifter M.J. - the chapter about how he finds a home among the patrons of the Aloha Lanes bowling alley was quite moving, and could stand alone as a short story. The final sentences of that passage, "Without meaning to, M.J. Striker had become a resident of somewhere. He'd acquired a family and a colorful wardrobe. He was no longer invisible" took my breath away. Even minor characters, such as Sylvie, the staid French research librarian who assists Margaret in her search for Holocaust survivors, have a powerful impact. Margaret looking up at the previously emotionless Sylvie from her hospital bed, and noticing that she is crying, was just one of the moments when I reached for a tissue and then shook my head in amazement, astonished at how much I cared.

    Each of these people play a role in the main plot, somehow assisting Margaret in coming to terms with her dark family history and finding closure, which in turn helps Wanda to move on from her own past. By the time the story reaches it's conclusion, they have all had an impact on one another's lives, and they have all achieved some degree of peace for themselves.

    Granted, the story is not without flaws. As an earlier review states, there are some unlikely coincidences used to neatly tie up loose ends. I noticed these, but after finishing the book, I found that I didn't really mind them. I cared so much about these people that I was willing to overlook a little manipulation in order for their broken selves to heal. Absolutely a five star read. ...more info
  • All the Pieces ...
    OK-this book had good character development and interesting twists and turns, but you could see the ending way, way, way off, so the end of the book was more of a relief than a revelation. I kind of like things the other way around....more info
  • chick book but not naive
    When I first saw the cover of Broken for You, I was devastated to find that Sue Monk Kidd had "absolutely [fallen] in love with this book", because quite frankly, The Secret Life of Bees made me want to throw up. I expected this book to be boring and super girly, but after the first chapter, I was hooked. My expectation was not met, thankfully, and although it is a bit of a chick book, its not corny or na?ve because of its multiple number of sexual references, a big plus in my opinion. The biggest strength of the book would have to be Kallos' style of thought. The characters' flash backs flowed nicely with the story, along with the obvious coinciding stories both Margaret and Wanda had for their lost loved ones. In addition, I was laughing out loud whenever Margaret's dead mother always started harping Margaret, its like she's dead, but not in her mean, critical, spirit. I also enjoyed the perspective of both sides of situations at the "accident", and Kallos had a nice smooth change in perspectives similar to "The Matrix". The action stops... The camera turns around the person/situation and then it seemed like the action was going in slow motion describing the details of sound and smell. One weakness was, as Margaret began to bring in more and more boarders, each new character's characterization became less in depth as if each character was made at the last minute so that Kallos could meet her dead line and just throw whatever into the book without a lot of detail. Sure, further on the characters were developed, but I was feeling cheated of information because I guess I was so used to Margaret and Wanda's fully developed background story and personality. Maybe that was her purpose because when you meet someone for the first time, you are cheated of some information of the person. But all in all, I enjoyed the book from its style of writing, and hopefully, while I'm reading Stephanie Kallos' other books, she will use the "Matrix" technique. The positive message I got from the book is, some things aren't meant to get over, but that doesn't mean that you should be emo all the time, wasting away your life by yourself. You can't do it alone, in fact, you should have a circle of people around you because then no one wants to die a lonely, lonely person.

    -Minnelli...more info
  • What is Broken--Can be Reconstructed
    This book had so many delightful elements interwoven into the story line that one must not skim through. Redemption. Love. Hate. Sex. Creativity. Humor. Family. Humanity. Brokeness. And...

    Repair. Reconstruct. Rebuild.

    This is the fundamental component which gives "Broken for You" depth, meaning, and significance. What is broken can be fixed, glued, repaired, and made greater! What is cracked can be mended and created again--- more wonderful than it ever was the first time.

    Margaret and Wanda come together and produce their own unusual fate. What was once broken can be corrected and made beautiful and powerful and spiritual.

    This is the essence of the book--this is the message to humanity--whatever darkeness you have experienced can transform into light.
    What a Revelation!

    "The next time you break something, consider the action that might not immediately come to mind---say a prayer of thanks over what has been broken---Then give it a place of honor"--------Broken For You-----

    ...more info
  • Well Crafted Yet Somewhat Predictable Novel
    Stephanie Kallos first and foremost is a very talented writer. She has an easy to read style that is engaging. In this novel she crafts some unique characters that are a joy to read.

    The events that unveil themselves are intriquing but predictable. This is defintely worth a read. It is a study on relationships and how you define yourself and family. Very enjoyable. ...more info
  • Good until it tries to make sense
    This book is a lively emotional exploration of simple metaphor. Broken people, expensive china that cannot break. Broken lives, the joy of breaking things and reconstructing them. The first few chapters are exceptional and, despite their hackneyed premise, drew me into these characters and their adventure. At that point, the author should have stopped and made this a simple exploration of real life, etc. Instead, she gets symbolic and emotional and waxes into "big issues," at which point this book becomes as predictable as a heat wave and about as exciting. Kallos is talented and while this book is of the lukewarm modern popular fiction "literature" (not literature) variety, it had promise for the first half. Stop reading there and you'll get a flavorful shot of life with funny, literate, lively text....more info
  • A Book to Savor
    Margaret Hughes talks to antiques. When Broken for You begins, the only real relationships Margaret has are with pieces of porcelain and the ghost of her mother. It takes a brain tumor to spur her into making life altering changes--opening her house to renters. Her first boarder, Wanda Schultz, has a history of being left behind. Having been abandoned as a child, she's in Seattle obsessively searching for the boyfriend who abandoned her. It will take something momentous to jar her from her compulsive search.

    In her book Broken for You, Stephanie Kallos delves into the variety of ways people get broken and the little things that, when added together, can fix just not individuals but large groups of people. Heart wrenching and funny in turn, Broken for You is a book to savor.

    Reviewed by Laurel Bradley, Author of A Wish in Time.
    A Wish In Time...more info
  • The Human Condition: Broken Shards
    In Broken for You Stephanie Kallos shows readers the human condition, a universe of broken pieces and flawed characters. She delves into the relationship between things, stuff reverberating with emotional baggage, and those who are responsible for the things. Her characters' universe contains repetitive behaviors and sinful baggage passed from one generation to another, lost love, isolation, and death. Kallos asks questions. How do we deal with the broken shards of the human condition? Is it possible to progress and heal?

    When Kallos portrays three broken characters (Margaret, Wanda, and M.J. Michael), and brings them together, the reader gets answers to philosophic questions about life's meaning. But the reader has to work at it. The answers are not explicit. First the reader must look at pain, loss, and even death.

    Margaret, an old lady, is the mother of Daniel, killed when he was a child, and the divorced ex-wife of Steven, who left after the death of their only son. Margaret lives alone in the same mansion she grew up in, but she is not alone because her home is inhabited by the ghosts of Daniel and her dead mother. They intrude on her consciousness daily, even hourly. The mansion also contains an immense catalogued collection of priceless porcelain acquired by her deceased collector-father to sell for profit. The collection had come from loot taken from victims of the Holocaust. Margaret did not sell the collection: her effort of atonement. She wanted no profit in the ill-gotten venture. But she still suffers pain from living with her sad legacy. She isolates herself and tries to honor the people behind the porcelain by cleaning and recognizing each piece, even talking to the inanimate objects. She is tied to her stuff. Clearly her life is broken: it is bound to the sins of her father, and the ghosts of Daniel and her mother. When she knows she is going to die she makes changes.

    Wanda, who was abandoned as a child by her mother and father, is an equally broken character, young, looking for lost love, and looking for a home. She works as a stage manager, finding solace making order out of chaos behind the scenes of plays. But she cannot make order out of her own chaotic life. At night she scouts the city for Peter, her lost love. Because of her obsession with finding Peter she is unable to relate to Troy, a good man who truly loves her. When she rents a room in Margaret's mansion she begins to change.

    M.J. Michael (Wanda's father) is looking for his lost love in the person of Gina, crazy wife and mother who had abandoned Wanda. He works in a bowling alley (he had met Gina in a bowling alley) hoping to see Gina among the bowlers. When he opens himself to the friendship of old carrot-topped Irma he begins to change.

    Kallos fits Margaret, Wanda, M.J. and their supporting casts together like porcelain pieces of a mosaic. Her creative conclusion expresses community, atonement, healing, support and love. Individual lives connect to a larger picture. Loss remains. Death does not go away. What is Kallos' answer to the philosophic question about human life? I think it is that we are all broken, but when we accept our brokenness and reach out to others we create a new reality based in love.
    ...more info
  • a book that works on a lot of levels
    I was enjoying the jewelry made out of shards of broken dishes and commented to their creator and vendor (at the San Francisco Green Festival) that I had been making mosaics with similar materials. The gentleman then recommended this book. I assumed it was going to be about making mosaics out of old dishes but as I was leaving he said - its a novel- which is really the kind of book I enjoy best -- more than how-to books. So I found the book and it was a terrific read. It kept surprising me and I loved the settings, the plotting and especially the unexpected characters and their interwoven lives. I hope this author can come up with something equally engaging. I'm looking forward to what comes next....more info
    Audiobook arrived promptly, as described, well packaged. I will buy from again!!...more info