Broken But Not Dead – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘I lifted my head and squinted. My eyes finally adjusted to the semi-darkness. Was that the woodstove next to me? I squinted harder. It was less than five feet away. How-? On my right, the chesterfield and chair, so close I could have reached out to touch them. A chunk of moonlight outlined the veranda doors less than six feet from the foot of my bed. I sucked in air. Not possible. I slumped back. I was in my bead in the middle of the living room, lying where my coffee table should be. “Confused?” a voice whispered.’
Brendell Meshango had just resigned her position with The University of Northern British Columbia where she taught English. For the first time in her 50 years of life she was finally free to do whatever she pleased. And today it pleased her to go to her cabin, build a fire, sit on the veranda and listen to the loons. Apparently someone else had other plans for Brendell which proved true when she woke up in the middle of her living room instead of her bedroom.
Brendell was one of twelve kids born to abusive, alcoholic parents. Her Indian mother loved to beat her children because she hated them, all of them. Her father beat them because he didn’t want them to end up like him. The kids were beaten for no apparent reasons but mother Agnostine enjoyed telling Brendell her beatings were due to her being a “stupid frog-squaw”, in other words – a half-breed. Brendell was determined not to allow them to break their spirits. Her defiance allowed her to prove to her mother, as well as herself, that she was a good person was to teach the one language her mother hated – English. Her determination paid off when it took her straight to the top by becoming the head of the English department.
So, who has captured Brendell, who is holding her captive, who is torturing her and threatening her daughter Zoe if she tells anyone? Even after she’s released and allowed to go home, her intruder shows up there with more threats. When Zoe’s best friend ends up being beaten, the police suspect her husband but when the details came out as to how she was beaten, Brendell recognizes his method and style. Her only choice for protecting Zoe is to get her out of town to safety and find this person before he strikes again.
Broken But Not Dead is written without the “fluff” that’s found in many books. Joylene Nowell Butler gets straight to the story, taking you from one happening to the next and keeps you turning the page. The characters of Brendell and her determination, Zoe and her stubbornness, the mental instability of the “intruder” is written with such possibility that the book is very believable. Now that I’ve read Broken But Not Dead, I can’t wait to read Dead Witness also written by Joylene Butler.