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Broken [Paperback]

Daniel Clay
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Mar 2008

You thought your neighbours were bad? Wait till you meet the Oswalds. They're crass, cruel and seemingly untouchable. Until, that is, they go one step too far – and the results begin to tear an entire community apart.

Skunk Cunningham is an eleven-year-old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad, an absent mother and a brother who plays more XBox than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their thuggish dad Bob are vicious bullies whose reign of terror extends unchallenged over the otherwise quiet suburban square in which the two families live.

And yet, terrifying though they are, the cider-swilling, dope-smoking Oswald girls are also happy to put it about – so when Saskia asks shy, virginal Rick Buckley for a ride in his new car, he can’t believe his luck. Too bad, then, that Saskia can’t keep her big mouth shut. When, after a disastrous fumble, she broadcasts Rick’s sexual deficiencies to anyone who’ll listen, it puts an idea into her younger sister’s head – an idea that sees Rick arrested for a crime he never committed.

From her hospital bed, Skunk tries to make sense of the events that follow, as Saskia’s small act of cruelty spreads through the neighbourhood in a web of increasing violence. As we inch closer to the mystery behind her coma, Skunk’s innocence becomes a beacon by which we navigate a world as comic as it is tragic, and as effortlessly engaging as it is ultimately uplifting, in this brilliant and utterly original debut novel.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (3 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007270135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007270132
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Amazon Review

About the Author ~ Daniel Clay
Daniel Clay is thirty seven years old and married with no children. He lives in Hampshire in the UK.

Exclusive Amazon.co.uk Interview with Daniel Clay

What is Broken. A Novel about?

Part narrated by Skunk Cunningham, an eleven-year-old girl in a coma, Broken. A Novel tells the intertwining stories of three families who live in a suburban square in the south of England. The Oswalds – Bob and his five daughters – are the neighbors from hell. They lie, steal, cheat, bully and intimidate anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near them, including Rick Buckley, a geeky but harmless nineteen-year-old boy who lives with his mum and dad on the other side of the square. Humiliated publicly by the Oswalds in the early stages of the novel, Rick descends into madness and becomes the Broken of the title. Skunk, her brother Jed and their new friend Dillon become fascinated with what’s happened to Broken which, in turn, leads to Skunk ending up in the coma from which she narrates the story.

What inspired you to write it?

My starting point were the family structures in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and how much society has changed in the eighty or so years since the events depicted in that novel took place. Once I had that starting point, I wanted to write about life as I saw it at the time I was writing – mad and cruel and random, yet always capable of surprising you, and always somehow worthwhile.

Who are your literary influences?

As a teenager, James Herbert and Stephen King were huge influences because they created characters I believed in and cared about. Since then, I’ve tended to love individual novels rather than particular authors. Orwell’s 1984, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, and Kem Nunn’s Tapping The Source are all novels I’ve now read several times (and wish I had written).

If you could recommend just one "must-read book" to anyone, what would it be and why?

Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. The same as the Harry Potter series, it has that knack of layering the fantastical over everyday life, but it’s darker and sexier and tinged with more horror as well. A magical read.

What top tips do you have for anyone looking to write their first book?

Write for the thrill of it and write for yourself. Try to surprise yourself. Try to shock yourself. Never try to write something that doesn’t excite you right from the outset. Never try to write what you think an editor or agent wants you to write. Think about how you can grab a reader’s attention and then not let them put your work down. Look at the writers who do this to you and compare their style to your style. Try to understand why they’re different. Try to do something about it. Read as widely as you can. Polish as hard as you can. And, most of all, have fun, enjoy yourself, challenge yourself, and never let the rejections stop you from writing.

Reviews for Broken. A Novel

We are not the only ones to love this book. Check out a selection of reviews below. As you can see a lot of the reviews have been written by our own Amazon customers. These are reviewers from our Amazon Vine programme. Scroll down to the customer review section to see all of the reviews submitted.

Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching. Guardian

A stunning first book … I’d be amazed if it doesn't get short-listed at awards time. Murray, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Daniel Clay has managed to weave a tale that simultaneously highlights some of the more disturbing aspects of contemporary British society whilst capturing some of the sweet innocence of a child’s mind... gripping. H. Pierce, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Reminiscent of Angela's Ashes set in the present day – there is humour and warmth, and a surprisingly upbeat, satisfying ending. I think this is probably the best new fiction I have read in the last year. P. M. Fernandez, Amazon Vine top reviewer

This book grabbed me and I could not put it down… It will make you laugh, cry and gasp with horror. Kehs, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Beautifully written … I couldn't put the book down. It contains humour and is incredibly touching. I will certainly be looking out for Daniel Clay’s next book. Recommended to all. SM, Amazon Vine top reviewer

Review

‘Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching’ Laura Wilson, Guardian

‘This is a novel whose plot and vivid, pared-down imagery bravely patrol the terrifying border at which the human blurs into the bestial and inanimate … Daniel Clay's debut novel is remarkably controlled and disciplined … Clay’s triumph is in exploring the kindness and love that might heal and restore – and what it is to feel fully alive.’ Anita Sethi, Independent

‘It’s funny and sad and moving … and ultimately very engaging.’ Francesca Segal, Observer

‘A moving, intriguing and at times funny debut novel’ Daily Express


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A damn fine read. 24 Oct 2008
By C. Hatfield TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are very few books which suck you into a world interwoven with believable characters and seamless plot lines but this is one of them.

If there is a criticism, then I would say that this is one of those books you can't just dip into and out again and pick up where you left off. I did pick at it for the first twenty pages with some difficulty. Then (on a free and sunny day) put aside the time to read it all the way through from the beginning to the end. Then the crescendo of a plot was given free rein to grip my attention to the end. Make time in your life for this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding New Talent 7 July 2008
By Lincs Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This is definitely the best book I have read so far this year, I know it's going to be up there in my top ten books of all time - a keeper for me.

I'd call this a modern-day 'To Kill A Mockingbird' - and I'm sure that Daniel Clay has based his story on Harper Lee's original novel. Set in a street in modern day Southampton and narrated by Skunk who is laying in a coma and lives with her brother Jed and lawyer single father Archie - the 'Broken' of the title is nineteen year old Rick Buckley who plunges into a spiral of madness after being falsely accused by one of the Oswald sisters. The Oswald family are brilliantly depicted - five tearaway girls with an oafish, beer swilling, dope smoking Father who lets them run riot but will defend them to the end.

As the Oswald family become more and more uncontrollable, the consequences of their actions spread throughout the whole street. The novel shows how one disfunctional family can affected a whole community. We watch Broken slowly descend deeper and deeper into madness - we see how this affects his Mother and Father and how the system sadly fails him. We watch the effect the Oswald girls have on the other youngsters in the area - some of the bullying scence are horrific and very violent, but so emotional, you can feel the fear.

Skunk is such a real and likeable heroine - at the start of the book she is laying in a coma and narrates her story from there. The story is told in a very real and intelligent way, yet so easy to read and be drawn in by. It is often painful to read as you see the inevitable happening, yet cant do anything to stop it but you have to read on. There are very touching moments and also some laugh out load funny moments.

Each character is perfectly formed and rounded.
Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and powerful 16 Mar 2008
By Paul Madge #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What would you do if one of your daughters was raped? How far would you go if the boy was never prosecuted? What would you do if your young shy son was accused of rape? How far would you go to protect him from neighbours? What would you do if you were accused of rape, then after humiliating body searches and questions were left to walk home alone, shamed, and then beaten up? How far would you go for someone you loved? This is a powerful story, full of emotive and sometimes small `innocent' actions that made me realise that even small decisions could make a significant difference to love, life and death. Highly recommended, but make sure you put time aside to read it because you'll not be putting the book down once you start it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim social reality: a gritty first novel 11 Nov 2012
By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Skunk Cunningham is an eleven-year-old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad, an absent mother and a brother who plays more X-Box than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their thuggish father Bob. They are vicious bullies, whose reign of terror extends unchallenged over their otherwise quiet suburban street.
And yet, terrifying though they undoubtedly are, the stiletto-wearing, cider-swilling Oswald girls are also sexy -- so when Saskia asks shy, virginal Rick Buckley for a ride in his new car, he can't believe his luck. Too bad that Saskia can't keep her big mouth shut. When she broadcasts Rick's deficiencies to anyone who will listen, it puts ideas into her younger sister's silly head -- ideas that will see Rick dragged off to prison, humiliated, and ultimately, in his father's words, 'broken' by the experience.

From her hospital bed, Skunk guides us through the events that follow, As we inch ever closer to the mystery behind her coma, Skunk's innocence becomes a beacon by which we navigate a world as comic as it is tragic, and as effortlessly engaging as it is ultimately uplifting, in this brilliant and original debut novel.
8/10
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Broken 23 May 2009
By kewsue
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An astonishing first novel. Subject matter seems dire at first but it is told in a completely gripping way. One does get used to the swearing! How the more normal families and the school are affected by the main dreadful family is absorbing. The book paints a picture of a society that we have been told exists but hope we never come across. How do teachers cope? What hope for the future do the children from the awful family have? I've been left with lots to think about - particularly what long-term effects come from mindless violence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read this year! 8 Dec 2008
By Dixie
Format:Paperback
Broken This book had me hooked from the start - how had Skunk come to be in a coma? The three main families - the Buckley's. Oswald's and the Cunningham's are involved throughout and the interactions between them are varied and send you through all kinds of emotions. I laughed, became sad, got angry but didn't feel manipulated at any point.
It's the kind of book that is easy to read and I hated having to put it down to go to work and my colleague was egging me on to finish so she could then read it.
She did and she raved about it too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph
To write such a powerful first novel fills me with admiration. Is this an environment familiar to the author? If not it is all the more remarkable. Read more
Published 16 days ago by sue the scribe
5.0 out of 5 stars Good service
I loved the DVD and shall read this book very soon. The book is in very good condition . Very satisfied.
Published 1 month ago by Amanda Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT DEBUT
Daniel Clay cranks up the melodrama in this powerful little novel. If you liked the film it's definitely worth the read.
Published 2 months ago by T. lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Daniel Clay
I don't find much time to read but when I started reading this I couldn't put it down. Fantastic book and looking forward to his next one.
Published 4 months ago by Miss E S Creighton
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
Found this book hard to put down and really didn't want it to end. I found myself still wanting to know more. What happens to all the characters in the future. Read more
Published 9 months ago by G Dewey-Nager
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I will buy everything this man ever writes in future. Beautifully written - how he manages to be witty and sharp and poetic and tragic all in the space of a paragraph is... Read more
Published 9 months ago by BookMania
5.0 out of 5 stars Broken
Great reading, couldn't stop reading it, shocks and surprises all the way through. So different from anything I've read before. Read more
Published 11 months ago by jackie22
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, gritty, feel good story
I bought this book because I have seen clips of the upcoming film and wanted to enhance the experience by reading the book. I was not disappointed.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. M. Bicknell
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read!
Would definitely recommend to anyone, could hardly put it down! Will definitely read more by Daniel Clay, very engaging style.
Published 12 months ago by Aisling Magee
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down
I bought the book having really enjoyed the recent adaptation at the cinema and read it from cover to cover in a day. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Richard Brown
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