It's embarrassing when a book has been sitting on a 'to be read' pile for so long the pages are yellowing. And I like Mercedes Lackey. Perhaps it was the idea of Elf racecar drivers that put me off. It seemed like stretching the elf prototype a bit. And maybe it's just a little too cutesy.
Yet 'When the Bough Breaks' is anything but a cute story. Racing is a backdrop for the story of an Elf (Mac Lynn) who is uncomfortable with his heritage and falling in love with a human (Lianne McCormick) for the second time. He should know better one would think, but there is something in the Elven mind that is drawn to drama. But even that isn't the real center of the story.
Amanda is a pre-adolescent girl who comes from an abusive family. Not a little abusive, but a lot abusive. So abusive that her personality has divided in order that some parts of her mind can never have to know the horrible truth. So abusive that her massive psychic talent has awakened and, if she cannot learn to master her anger, it may very well bring the Elven world down. The only think holding together is that one of her personalities isn't hers, but that of an ancient druid witch.
Mac and Lianne struggle to extract Amanda from her wealthy but hopeless environment, but are hampered on all sides. Not only is Amanda herself a threat, but several psychic hunters are determined to kidnap Mac or Amanda and enslave them for their powers. It will take a miracle for this to work out well, and, frankly, well just may not be an option.
As much as I applaud Lackey and Lisle for making a real statement about the horrors of child abuse, the plot is heavy handed in other places with less effect. There's are too many things going on and this weakens the plot line around Amanda. And Mac Lynn's antics provide a distracting and almost innapropriate contrast to the core issues. I would have liked to see this be a simpler, darker story with a less predictable conclusion.