This is KLCC. I’m Connie Bennett with a book review of “Too Shattered for Mending” by Peter Brown Hoffmeister.
I hesitated to read it. A coming of age story set in the grim poverty of rural Idaho, written from the first person by an abandoned, dyslexic teen who’s in trouble at home, in school, and with the law. I wasn’t sure I wanted to immerse myself in the bleak world of Little McCardell.
But the book got starred recommendations in both Publishers Weekly and the Kirkus Reviews, and Hoffmeister grew up in Eugene and teaches in the Outdoor Program at South Eugene High School. So I thought I’d at least give the book a glance. I am so glad I did.
From the first page, I was seduced by the lyrical language, the imagery of nature, the very structure of the book, with its extremely short chapters and non-linear timeline. The story is more assembled than narrated, a crazy-quilt of smells and choices and half-understood memories.
There is mystery at the heart of it, not only at the surface with Little’s cautious search for his missing Grandfather, but also the mystery of how our lives twist and sometimes shatter with the unbearable weight of surviving. The title image, from a poem by Robinson Jeffers, describing a hawk with a broken wing, echoes through the book.
There is also hope at the heart of the book, despite the poverty, alcoholism, and drugs. In the different paths chosen by Little, his brother JT, and their friend Rowan, as they try to navigate a world not of their making, we experience both compassion and grace. As we watch Little protect his young cousin Willa, we reflect on the way our own choices impact others.
Like all the best books, I hated to turn the last page.
This is KLCC. I’m Connie Bennett, reviewing “Too Shattered for Mending” by Peter Brown Hoffmeister.