Thursday, May 29, 2014

Breakable (Contours of the Heart #2) by Tammara Webber

* * * * *

He was lost and alone. Then he found her.  

And the future seemed more fragile than ever.

As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.

All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…

As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

Easy was so phenomenal that if you were like me wondering how it could possibly get any better, it does! Webber imbues a special kind of magic in telling Lucas' story by creatively showing us two aspects of his life: as Landon, a young teenager on the verge of becoming a full-on juvenile delinquent and then the disciplined, hardworking Lucas we're familiar with. Each chapter starts with Landon whose particular storyline parallels what Lucas is going through. The differences are apparent.

BiblioJunkie Nat (who I begged to hurry up and read this) and I discussed the many elements of this book that make it outstanding. For one, she employs the subtle use of language to draw the contrast between the younger Landon and older Lucas. Nat pointed out for example where Landon, as a typical teenage boy would refer to his make out partner’s anatomy as “tits” while Lucas’ would refer to Jacqueline’s “breasts”. To quote Nat, “it’s a tiny change that shows a certain level of growth”. Seeing this growth is what makes Lucas all the more endearing.

What is a revelation to me is his anger which turns out to be one constant throughout his life so far. His potential for violence is only hinted at in Easy in specific instances where he rescues Jacqueline the first time and comes to her aid the second time. I thought it was just a reaction to the events or a rush of adrenaline. But young Landon is a lost, miserable mess with issues at school, involved with drugs and beats up on people. It’s heart-wrenching that he and his dad are both going through so much pain but so disconnected from each other. They're both in denial while Landon carries the weight of responsibility for what happened to his family. He's so detached and numb that his moments of violence are cathartic releases for him. When it happens one final time, he's forced to make changes and that shift comes about in a bizarre, unexpected way. Years later, he's hyper aware that he needs to keep himself in check which explains why he's so disciplined and focused as an adult.

Third, the older Lucas may come off as smooth but he's so inwardly awkward around Jacqueline that it’s freaking hilarious! Thank goodness because we need that to balance some of the heavy emotional stuff. His crush on Jacqueline has him doing things that are out of character. Remember that hot bar scene where he asked her to dance? His thoughts leading up to that are hysterical. I actually read that bar scene side by side with the one from Easy. On it's own it's hot. But reading both together will have you fanning yourself! And it’s all the little things he notices about Jacqueline from her scent to her subconscious mannerisms that will have all the girls in a tizzy. No doubt, Jacqueline wasn't even aware of this about herself which makes it all the more romantic that Lucas keyed into them. 

This brings me to the fourth thing to love about Breakable: it's not a rehashing of events but also a movement forward.  Easy implies a sense of closure and healing. Breakable show us how he gets there including reparation of his relationships. The moments that are retold like when he approaches Jacqueline in class for her phone number and she responds by asking him if he needs help with his homework, become funnier the second time around because we know what's going on now. 

At some point, I considered if Breakable could be read as a stand alone. After rereading it again (are you surprised?), I've concluded that the answer for me at least, is a no. Without knowing the events in Easy through Jacqueline's experience, Lucas' angle won't have quite the same emotional intensity. Not only are we learning about Lucas' past but we're also privy to his internal struggle. It's not just this dual identity thing he has going with Jacqueline that has him so guilt-ridden and worried. Deep down, this awesome guy is still a grieving little boy who hasn't managed to fully process all that he's been through.   

I've also concluded that there must be something embedded in the font because Breakable, just like Easy, begs for multiple readings. Oh and hold yourself together for that special surprise he has for Jacqueline at the end. Let's just say that things come full circle ;-)

~ Bel

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