Too Shattered for Mending
When it comes to writing books for teens, a lot of authors shy away from difficult topics, but not Peter Brown Hoffmeister. Too Shattered for Mending is a dark and no-holds-barred view of back-country Idaho living for the main character, Little, a 16-year-old whose mother died when he was an infant and whose Mexican father left him and his brother before he can even remember. Instead, he was raised by his grandfather who, in his later years, became a drug manufacturer and dealer. Little has to deal with family dysfunction, being in love with his brother’s girl, and trying to maintain a good example for his young cousin who depends on him more than she should for food and care because her parents aren’t worth their salt.
Hoffmeister paints a stunning and sorrowful picture of Northern Idaho, one of lush forests and ample game but one that does not support its towns anymore. The area is full of places that are dying or infested with substance and abuse issues. The novel is constructed around chapters which skip carefully around in the timeline, foreshadowing and hinting at the darker truths while rarely coming straight out with them. In fact, halfway through the book I thought I had everything pretty well figured out in the sequence of events, but it turns out I had one vital detail wrong. And the reveal at the end is beautifully arranged and set up to give the reader maximum satisfaction and heartbreak all at once.
Between the gorgeous writing, excellent characterization, and carefully constructed plot, Too Shattered for Mending is well worth your time, not only for the quality of the text but also for the lessons it holds about the forgotten areas of our country.
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Peter Brown Hoffmeister