"BREAK," by JoLyn Brown, Walnut Springs Press, $16.99, 263 pages (f)
The cute neighbor boy named Preston and his brother Sammy from JoLyn Brown's debut novel "Run" are back in a new standalone novel "Break."
Preston can handle it — the bills piling up; their house falling apart; his mother's remarriage to a wealthy artist; his crazy new stepsisters; Sammy's heart problems; and even his friend's death in an ATV accident. He just has some trouble getting words to come out, and sometimes he can't sleep at night. Sure, his panic attacks are getting more intense, but he's fine.
Worst of all, he's struggling to feel the calming presence of the Spirit. Admitting he has a problem would make him just like his father, who abandoned him, his mother and Sammy years ago. But, between his fears and Alex, his gently prying stepdad, Preston is reaching his breaking point.
Despite the heavy subject matter, "Break" is an uplifting, hopeful novel. Brown's writing is simple and vivid, making her characters and setting feel real. Readers will be touched by "Break" whether they have read its predecessor "Run."
Almost all the characters in "Break" are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The story largely takes place in southern Utah, and Brown also lives in Utah. Gospel doctrines, including eternal families, the Atonement of Jesus Christ and spiritual promptings are discussed throughout the novel.
"Break" tackles some tough subjects like death, divorce, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and Brown handles the sensitive material with grace. The novel contains oblique references to profanity, but no violence or sexual content.
Rachel Chipman believes heaven will have books piled to the ceiling and endless time to read. She lives with two little bookworms and one grown-up bookworm in northern Virginia.