Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer Day 2

The novel Broken Angel has a lot of viewpoint characters. I have to admit I had trouble keeping them straight. As well, several chapters were letters that Jordan Brown wrote to Caitlyn to explain what was going on. The novel opens with one such letter:

We had agreed--the woman I loved and I--that as soon as you were born, we would perform an act of mercy and decency and wrap you in a towel and drown you in a nearby sink of water.

But in the motel room that was our home, the woman I loved died while giving birth. You were a tiny bundle of silent and alert vulnerability and all that remained to remind me of the woman.

I was nearly blind with tears in that lonely motel room. With the selfishness typical of my entire life to that point, I delayed the mercy and decency we had promised you. I used the towel not to wrap and drown you, but to clean and dry you.

As I lifted your hands and gently wiped the terrible hunch in the center of your back--where your arms connected to a ridge of bone that pushed against your translucent skin--I heard God speak to me for the first time in my life.

He did not speak in the loud and terrible way as claimed by the preachers of Appalachia where I fled with you. Instead God spoke in the way I believe he most often speaks to humans--through the heart, when circumstances have stripped away our obstinate self-focus.

From this letter (I just posted about two-thirds of the letter), we move into the prologue, and from that, into the story's present.

I'm not fond of letters such as this as story-opening devices, though I must admit the opening paragraph caught my attention. Did you catch what Caitlyn's big secret was in that letter?

One of the viewpoint characters, the purely evil bounty hunter Mason Lee, was easy to keep separate in my mind from the others. I am not fond of suspense stories to start with, but Lee's character seemed cliche evil, and watching him set up his torture chamber also felt like a device to show us his depravity--not in an original way. I'm interested what other bloggers who may like suspense better than I do may have thought of Lee's presence in the story.

Sigmund Brouwer is the author of 18 novels for children and adults.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I spent two days discussing the church, and realized as I read your posts that there was so much more I could have talked about--not that I'm sorry I explored the topic.

I am not a fan of so many points of view either. At first it did bother me, especially when I realized some of my favorites would come into conflict with each other. I though Brouwer worked that out well.

I didn't have a hard time keeping them straight for the most part because I thought he did an excellent job giving each a unique voice. There were two I mixed up from time to time.

Mason ... I didn't find him stereotypical. I thought he was one of the most frightening characters I've read.

Besides the point of view issue, I would like to have written about the father/daughter relationship. In several comments, Sigmund pointed out that first and foremost, the story is about that relationship. Yes, indeed. Caitlyn's shattered trust, the letting go Jordan faced. Lots to think about there.


sbrouwer said...

Hello Valerie,

thanks for the honest and respectful review. there will be more about the father/daughter relationship in the sequel.