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Jenni votes DRAW on the cover of “Unbroken.” Let’s see how the book itself fared…
My parents, unable to change me, had instead silenced me. When they’d stilled my hands, they’d taken my words, made me lower my voice to a whisper. Later, I remained silent in defense, refusing to acknowledge the hateful words: Brainiac. Sissy. Antiman. Faggot.
Lincoln de Chabert’s life is pretty unremarkable until he comes home from kindergarten and announces he will marry his best friend when he grows up.
His parents spring into immediate action, determined to fix him, igniting an epic battle of wills as Lincoln is determined to remain himself, and marry whom he chooses, at all costs.
So, I’ve categorized this as a good cover, but I’m not totally convinced. It might actually be just…okay? On the one hand, you have the beautifully entwined male torsos. On the other hand, there’s that cracked mirror/glass thingy going on, plus the font is a little much. Maybe it needs to be softer, more understated. I really like the concept, though, especially because it so perfectly reflects the book’s theme.
But honestly, forget good or bad covers because it’s the words that matter here. Unbroken was glorious, and written with both heartbreak and happiness, and I can’t believe more people don’t know about this novel and/or Larry Benjamin.
Told from Lincoln’s POV, Unbroken was captivating to me because it started with Lincoln as a young boy. Lincoln always knew who he was despite his family (and occasionally his friends) encouraging him to bury/deny/reject the fact that he was gay, even before Lincoln fully understood his homosexuality for himself. That self-awareness was powerful stuff, and no matter what, Lincoln never gave in.
MC Jose comes into Lincoln’s life during Lincoln’s formative pre-teen years. Tough, no-nonsense Jose never berates or harasses Lincoln for being effeminate. Jose instead quietly defends Lincoln for many years, until their paths finally intersect permanently when they leave for the same college. It wasn’t always easy to read. Lincoln and Jose push and pull and give and take in the toughest ways, but they never gave up on each other.
Having recently read two separate books that began with childhood POVs, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really like this concept a lot (provided it’s done well). It allows the reader to connect with the MCs on a totally different level, and I find stories written from this perspective are richer and more emotional.
It also should be said: there’s simply not a lot of diversity in m/m, so Unbroken was a breath of fresh air in that regard. I loved following Lincoln through his formative years in the Bronx and getting stats about important things taking place during each decade of his growth. I did think the writing style was sometimes choppy and jolting; there were places where dialogue/actions ended abruptly but I wanted to know more. Still, the overarching message in Unbroken was perseverance: don’t sell out, hold onto your dreams; know yourself, love yourself. I felt uplifted and refreshed after reading, and I look forward to following more of Larry Benjamin’s work.