LISETTE BRODEY’S “SQUALOR, NEW MEXICO”
Lisette Brodey’s novel, Squalor, New Mexico, is a coming-of-age story that’s peripherally about squalor and not at all about New Mexico. It takes place in the not-too-distant-past, somewhere in the comfort of East Coast suburbia. It is a first-person story told by Darla McKendrick, 16, a narrator often sparked by the panicky immediacy of adolescent angst. Yet Darla as a storyteller is blessed with ironic humor, and her tale, packed with well-drawn characters, is overflowing with twists and turns. It is a young adult novel but there’s nothing childish about it: quite the contrary. It’s a gripper for either age and either sex…
I love this book. It’s one of my top five books of all time. The characters were so believable and true to life that I wanted to meet them after I finished the book. I genuinely wanted to see how they were doing.
The reason this book is so powerful is because it offers so many lessons, very subtle lessons the kind that offer tremendous growth to people of all ages. They are the kind of lessons that kids will learn without knowing there are any lessons.
While I wholeheartedly recommend this book for people of both sexes and all ages, I think it’s an especially great book for kids and parents to read and discuss. I was particularly impressed by the way the author shows both sides of the parent/child conflict without taking sides. Lisette Brodey writes about a family. Without being preachy, she shows how good people can make bad decisions and stresses the importance of family unity in healing. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There truly is so much more.
Ward Foley, Author, “Thank My Lucky Scars”
A great story of family being your biggest enemy and best friend as well as the gradual discovery of the humanity of parents and the depth of personal responsibility it takes to become an adult.
Christy Leigh Stewart, Author, “Loath Letters”
By turns gripping, poignant and wisely funny, author Lisette Brodey has created a narrative with Squalor, New Mexico that takes the reader on a ride that emotionally runs the gamut from a compelling coming-of-age story thru an unraveling of family secrets and disclosures that ultimately packs a real emotional wallop. It is a ride I would strongly encourage any reader to take. Be prepared to both laugh and cry as I did, with characters that are both unique and disarmingly real. I found myself in the very capable hands of a writer who imbues her characters with personality traits that feel authentic namely her very winning heroine by the name of Darla McKendrick, a charismatic and at-times-fearless teen who is possibly the best argument for living a life of integrity that I can think of.
Ms. Brodey offers deep insight into the emotional inner life of Darla, capturing the intensity of a young girl’s emergence into early womanhood through a series of circumstances that ultimately test her innocence and belief in what is real and what is lie. I found myself reading late into the night, drawn to the twists in the plot and rooting for Darla every step of the way in a manner that I haven’t encountered often in recent fiction. A great read!
Mark Cote, Singer/Songwriter
This (Squalor, New Mexico) is a wonderful story about a girl growing up in a family that has a secret, and how this secret affects the lives of everyone in it. As this girl, Darla, moves into her teen years, she battles all the demons that go with it bullies, hormones, boys, and her own curiosity and intellect. Having had two daughters (now in their 20s) go through this, I was amazed at how real and clear Ms. Brodey presented her young characters, right down to their thoughts and feelings while making choices, both good and bad. I also empathized very much with the fathers in the book, wanting so much to protect their children as they push the limits of family rules and moral behavior. It’s a universal parental struggle to keep those boundaries set, and again, the author scores really high marks with this aspect of the story, as the parents deal with their own demons, both past and present.
I thought this was going to be strictly a “chick” book, or one targeted for YA shelf, but I was totally wrong! While it certainly should be read by the “Agnes Thong” and “Traveling Pants” enthusiasts, this is one story that is far deeper and meaningful in examining ones values, and I highly recommend it for everyone! Lisette Brodey has that gift to be able to breathe life into her characters, and make you really care what happens to them. I’ll be seeking out her other work, as well.
Randy Simon, Monroe, New Jersey
LISETTE BRODEY’S “CROOKED MOON”
Lisette Brodey, in her debut novel, Crooked Moon, has given us a delightful, quirky story of family and friendship, of betrayal and forgiveness.
Brodey employs a wonderful use of language - combined with the occasional, hugely entertaining, and purposeful misuse of same - in leading the reader through the twists and turns in the lives of Callie Mason and Mary Frances “Frankie” Cavalese.
It’s the vagaries of life that separated the two best friends after high school, and it’s death that brings them back together. The emotionally charged reunion sizzles with the fears and insecurities that have festered through their 23-year separation.
Wright Gres, Author, Macedonia Passage: Dangerous Cargo
Lisette Brodey is an amazingly empathetic writer. In her book, Crooked Moon, I was taken on an emotional journey and reminded that we all have our inner demons to wrestle with and, even though there may be things in our lives that we have no control over, we can triumphantly overcome them. This was a real page-turner and, by the end of the book, I found myself rejoicing as the “crooked moon” blossomed into a beautiful full moon. I was also sorry that the book came to an end, because I’d become so connected with the characters that they took on a life of their own. I found myself imagining their lives well beyond the last page. I can’t wait to read everything this writer puts out, as I’m sure each journey will be even more rewarding than the one before it!”
Setra Sundahta, Singer / Songwriter / Producer
Can you go home again? Do you want to go home again? What about the people who never left home? How can they return to what once was, when their lost loved ones come home? These are some of the issues that Lisette Brodey raises in her wonderful and moving book, Crooked Moon. The fingers of her story reach into your chest starting with the first chapter and begin to squeeze ever more so, chapter by chapter, until your empathy for Callie and Frankie gushes right out of your heart. I am so happy that I purchased this book and discovered a fabulous author in the process. I am giving this book to friends as gifts. I can’t wait to read Squalor, New Mexico. Don’t stop doing what you were born to do, Lisette.
Henry A. Leighton Jr., Tuscon, AZ
Crooked Moon in an all-night page turning read. Each character is intense with his/her own hidden secrets. With each page, the suspense builds to such a point you cannot put it down. Anyone who loves a tale of friendship, heartache, and secrets will not be disappointed in Crooked Moon.
Lisette Brodey delves into each character, bringing them to life in your mind. A must read! I eagerly anticipate more from Ms. Brodey!
Sheri A. Wilkinson, Princeton, IL
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