The Bird with the Broken Wing, by D.L. Richardson

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I’m part of the We ♥ YA Books! group over at Goodreads, and the description of this book intrigued me right away. I like contemporary supernatural stories, but the setting being Purgatory is what really hooked me. I’m always interested in different authors’ takes on the afterlife, and let me start this review by saying that Ms. Richardson’s vision of Purgatory is brilliantly set in a rehab center. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before, but I’ve never seen it, and to me it was original, unexpected, and perfect in its symbolic simplicity. Once one of the main characters arrived there, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Her name is Julliet “Jet” Jones, and she just downed vodka and pills. She resorts to suicide with a variety of reasons including a rumor spread about her at school potentially started by her “boyfriend.” Meanwhile, her rich father travels the world but doesn’t provide much beyond the basic necessities—physical or emotional—and won’t even buy her a nice dress to school dances. Her mother is withdrawn into accepting this life, though there may be an affair involved.

When Jet awakens from her supposed failed suicide attempt, she’s in a strange rehab center with two other inmates—Ben and Rachael. Ben is actually introduced in the prologue of the story in a war zone, and it’s clear that he’s suffering from some kind of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Though she avoids physical contact with the others, Rachael acts as the self-appointed group leader and insists they write in their journals. There are many stories out there of teens in some sort of rehab group, and the characters fall into types and have their specific quirks. By having only these three characters, Richardson avoids such overcrowding and gives them equal development.

From the book description, you know going in that they’re in Purgatory, so some of my enjoyment came from the characters learning that. They ask questions about the place. Where are the doctors? Why aren’t there any meals? Why isn’t anyone’s family coming to visit? (This one frustrates Jet to no end.) Why have they lost all track of how much time they’ve been there? And what’s up with the creepy “art therapy” room?

I will confess that when I first accepted the book, I was reading another book, so by the time I finished that and started this one, I had forgotten most of the book description. All I remembered was that it took place in Purgatory—which was good enough for me to read. I forgot the true identity of one of the characters, and I think not remembering that enhanced my enjoyment of the book. Just as it was one more mystery for the other characters to figure out, I was figuring it out with them.

Though the book is written in third-person, about equal time is spent in the headspace of each of the three characters. Richardson handles this by changing the primary character each chapter, but making it clear whose chapter it is within the first paragraph. I never had a problem knowing which of the three I was following, and for most of the book, this construction worked really well. Towards the end of the story, where the stakes of the plot have truly built such that characters’ destinies are on the line, the changing POV gets jarring. The events occurring are quick-paced, but the switching-POV scheme leads to some really short chapters. Thus, the narration changes are abrupt and interrupt those gripping climactic moments.

But once past that, the book’s underlying theme of redemption really resonates in the final chapters, and the final moments filled me with warmth and hope, and even caused my eyes to water a bit. I won’t spoil the ending here, but it’s quite beautiful how Richardson intertwines what the three characters have learned about themselves in Purgatory and where they all are headed afterwards.

The book soars like a bird, almost to Heaven at FOUR STARS AND one broken in HALF.

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The Bird with the Broken Wing is available at Amazon.

Read the spotlight of author D.L. Richardson HERE.

Comments

  1. D L Richardson says:

    I’m so pleased that you like this book. Thanks Pete.
    D L Richardson xox

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