Broken Pieces: A Novel
by Kathleen Long
Destiny Jones is doing just fine on her own, thanks. From her thriving one-woman carpentry business to the loving support of her small-town community, Destiny has constructed a life as sturdy and polished as her best cabinets. Twenty years ago, Destiny’s world collapsed when her mother died and her father, Albert, abandoned his daughter to pursue acting in New York. His devastating exit taught Destiny a lesson in self-reliance that has kept her safe—and alone—ever since.
Now Albert Jones is back, begging for a second chance. Destiny suspects he’s simply staging another performance, starring himself as the prodigal father. Should she act on her misgivings? Or listen to her inner child, who still yearns for a family? When Albert divulges a shocking secret, Destiny’s life will again be turned upside down.
Kathleen Long’s warm, wise novel reveals the armor that has protected us in the past is often the very thing we must shed to fully live and love.
I don’t know what to feel after reading this book. But I can tell you this. Broken Pieces is heart-breakingly beautiful. So heartbreaking, that it had me crying a river; so beautiful that it had me thinking about life and embracing it like it was my last day on earth.
Issues of cancer, death, abandonment, lies, struggles, repentance and forgiveness are definitely some factors that a reader would have a hard time processing, because these would only result to tears and disappointments.
I must admit, I was prepared to dislike Albert Jones, Broadway royalty, a great stage/theater actor, because of what he did to his daughter. He had lied over and over again, had kept lots of secrets, had disregarded his family and chose to live the life of ease, devoid of responsibility. Imagine a man deserting his daughter right after his own wife died, and came back after 20 years, only to learn that he didn’t return for said daughter, but for another reason – a secret that he had been hiding even before she was born. Man, that gotta hurt. A lot.
“You’re four and a half months early for Christmas, and you haven’t even remembered my birthday in at least 15 years, which begs the question: Why are you here?”
His green eyes measured me, their light dim. They focused momentarily, flickered with hope. “Is it your birthday?” he asked.
The pain of his not knowing stung, but I’d long ago learned to shove away my disappointment. “No, not even close.”
“Can’t a father visit his daughter?” he asked.
“A father can, yes. But you lack the basic qualifications, don’t you think?”
And Destiny Jones had every right to stay mad at him for all these years. Why accept him back and had him stay in her house after two decades of no-communication? If I were in Destiny’s shoes, I would have thrown all my issues at him, shouted at him, told him he was a good-for-nothing selfish father whose only concern was himself and himself alone.
And then Sydney and Ella came. Two strangers who were actually a big part of her life, people who were hidden from her, people who needed her, people who will change her life forever.
Sydney was dying because of cancer, just like Destiny’s mom did. And her daughter Ella, too wise for her age of 9, must conform with the changes that were happening around her. Could they trust Destiny and Albert? Was it Destiny’s fault that Ella’s life was about to crumble and fall?
When Fate decided to test her, her world shattered, and Destiny didn’t know if she could ever change the dreaded future or continue living in the past, in regret, in memories, in secrets, in broken pieces.
Sydney had spent much of the day in bed, after a long night battling nausea. She slept now, and I did my best to keep Ella and her mood contained to the sitting room.
“I wish we never came here,” she said, keeping her voice low but angry, in a manner that suggested she’d had plenty of practice not waking up her mother. “She was fine before we came here. Fine.”
Tears streamed down her face, her cheeks flushed a deep red. “Now she’s tired all the time, and her hair’s falling out again.” She pointed her finger at me. “It’s your fault. You didn’t even want us here, and now she’s sick!”
Damn it, I think this is the only book wherein I cried for every chapter I perused. Yes, every friggin’ chapter would have your heart twisted and aching. There’s just so many unfairness and incredulity in this world, in Destiny’s world, in Ella’s world, and I as a reader, couldn’t help but weep for them. Damn.
Broken Pieces got a special place in my heart, reminded me of the times when I didn’t know what to do after I learned that my father is battling cancer in the United States, and I was here, left in the Philippines, his only daughter who wasn’t able to see him personally until his dying breath. I was helpless. I wanted to run and drown myself to work, to forget the pain, to hide my tears from my mom. Damn it, cancer sucks.
Let me say my thanks and praises to Kathleen Long, the author, for a beautiful and emotional story about family, love, acceptance, generosity and forgiveness. Ella’s painted rocks just became a big part of my life. Ella just inspired me to think about rainbows, hearts and smiles and life in between. The cover is spectacular, the story was stirring, the characters were endearing, the ending was surprisingly colorful. I would never ever forget this book, not by a long shot, not at all.
“The rocks reminded me of us” – he pointed back and forth between us – “broken together.”
“We’re broken. But we’re together.”
“You are enough.”
“Our broken pieces fit. We weren’t perfect. We weren’t smooth. But we belonged.”