Broken Objects – Paul Michael Peters

*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: Broken Objects captures the spirit of America in the era between the start of the Civil War and the turn of the new century following the life of Linnea Karlsson, the first naturally-born American in an immigrant family from Sweden, now farming north of Detroit, Michigan.

At the age of ten, Papa sends Linnea to work in the city. Farm life is rough, but Linnea quickly learns she must be tougher growing up in the textile mill making uniforms for the Union Army. Each person she meets introduces her to an America in adolescence, transforming her life. What will she learn that shapes her into becoming a woman? What does it take to persevere through life’s hardships from the Civil War through Reconstruction for the average American to create a new century of greatness?

For the majority of this story, it reads like a straightforward history of the hardships encountered by the main character, Linnea, and how she conquers them with courage and dignity to persevere against the odds.

I was reminded a little of the Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiographical books, but in a more condensed format (we get the whole of Linnea’s life in the one volume here!). We see the everyday details of bobbin collecting in a fabric factory, maintaining a small plot of land as a smallholding, with some crops and animals, and running a small household as a wife and mother in adverse weather and financial conditions.

Unlike the Prairie books, however, Linnea’s life includes some challenges that aren’t very appropriate for children, for example, when she is taken advantage of by an employer. Such subjects are handled delicately, off-page, with the same sort of hints and side talk that feel authentic to society of the time.

And then, suddenly, towards the end, there is a twist that knocked the wind from me and changed the entire narrative completely. All the clues were there all along, but I didn’t put them together until the very last minute, lulled into a false sense of security by Linnea’s determined survival despite an ever-present dread that some mysterious ‘other shoe’ was up there somewhere, just waiting…

The remainder of the story deals mainly with the fallout from those climactic revelations and shifts the narrative perspective from Linnea to the next generation, providing hope for the future and a continuation of that determination to not only beat the odds but thrive despite them.

Honestly, though, despite the movement towards brighter times I put the book down still reeling from the darker blows and am not sure I’ve processed the whole thing, even now. The title and its meaning should have really warned me what was to come, and I do think the story as a whole reflects the idea of kintsugi well, but felt that the ending was a little bit out of character for Linnea and slightly undermined the gold seams of strength, courage and love that had held her together throughout all her challenges.

So, mostly a quietly enjoyable historical tale of adversity and overcoming it but with a sudden dark shock that will stir you out of your comfort zone and leave you with something to remember!

“I work at the textile mill,” Linnea said. “We make uniforms for the North.”
“My uniform kept me warm through my first campaign. Thank you for doing such a good job.”
“Do you believe that? What you said? That there must be truth because there are lies?”
“I do,” he nodded. “Truth tellers are damned. We tell lies to avoid damnation.”
“I thought lying was a sin.”
“Treachery, yes.”
“Sinners are damned as well?”
“We all are, young miss. We all are.”

– Paul Michael Peters, Broken Objects

Purchase Link: Broken Objects on Amazon

About the author

Paul Michael Peters is an American author of thrillers, suspense, and the unexpected. He is best known for his twists and takes on the quirky tangents of life.

His recent works include the thriller Combustible Punch, which explores the psychological dance between that most unlikely of odd couples: a serial killer and a high school shooting survivor. Other works include The Symmetry of SnowflakesInsensible Loss, and short story collections Killing the Devil and Mr. Memory and Other Stories of Wonder.

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