Little Broken Things
by Nicole Baart
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (November 21, 2017)
“If you liked Big Little Lies, you’ll want to crack open this new novel by Nicole Baart.” —Southern Living
An engrossing and suspenseful novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Amy Hatvany about an affluent suburban family whose carefully constructed facade starts to come apart with the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.
I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn’s house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.
Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.
While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.
Children are not my specialty, but somewhere along the way I learned that they’re just like adults in one regard: they purr when petted just so. It feels wrong to use kindness as a tool, but I’m doing what I have to.
The list of my weaknesses is long and varied, but none so great as my tendency to inertia. At the moments I most need to go, I find myself crippled and terrified.
Damn it, Nora. She could be such a drama queen. A black hole of a woman, the kind of person who drew people to her dark gravity and sucked them in before they realized what was happening.
Liz was a good, God-fearing woman and a regular at the First Reformed Church of Key Lake, but she wasn’t the quintessential parishioner. She was fond of Jesus, not so much his people. And they seemed to love Wal-Mart more than seemed strictly conventional.
Anger and affection made awkward dance partners, and Quinn couldn’t decide whether she loved her sister in that moment or hated her just a little.
I was immediately yanked into this intriguing and lushly written tale from the onset. I became an instant fan of this highly skilled and phenomenally talented author and now greedily want to read every word she has ever scribbled. Each character was uniquely quirky, cleverly devised, well fleshed out, and multifaceted. They were flawed, frustrating, endearing, exasperating, enticing and well-drawn, and I wanted to know every little thing about them. I was engrossed, totally engaged, intensely curious, and half-crazed to know all the secrets.
Ms. Baart is a richly gifted wordsmith and kept me on edge, on the hook, deeply entrenched, and riveted to her richly detailed and tantalizing tale. I felt the urgency and was often taut with tension, my skin prickled in anticipation with so much left unsaid and lurking beneath the surface of this maddeningly paced and well-crafted story. The writing was superb, observantly insightful, and a treat. The plot was deviously crafted and densely populated with several cunningly devised subplots running in different directions while bending back at the same time, and all of which were deeply intriguing and lavishly detailed. In short, it was brilliant.
Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, The Beautiful Daughters. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.
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