OVERRIDE

Broken as Things Are

A Novel

Martha Witt

Picador

From the day that Morgan-Lee is born, her extraordinarily beautiful and withdrawn older brother, Ginx, is obsessed by her. As Aunt Lois recalls: "Ginx thought you belonged to him, Morgan-Lee. He would sit on our big couch right there in his sailor's suit and hold on to you for dear life . . . He didn't speak normal till he was five. Then—bang—one day he's just talking away in complete sentences. But he wouldn't say I. He said we, meaning you and him."

Morgan-Lee is the only person who is able to understand and engage Ginx. Sharing a secret language, they escape together into a make-believe world. Unable to articulate his emotions, except through garbled, nonsensical words, Ginx becomes increasingly disturbed by Morgan-Lee's desire for friendships beyond the closed, loving circle of their sibling bond. The summer when Morgan-Lee turns fourteen, she first encounters the strange Sweety-Boy and her half-brother, Jacob—and is then faced with choosing between her love for the increasingly violent Ginx and a life without him.

In a sure and luminous voice, Martha Witt creates both the intense, private world of childhood and imagination and the inevitable and necessary pain of separation as Morgan-Lee seeks out affection beyond the domain of her fractured and damaged family.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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Broken as Things are
BEAUTYTHE DAY MY ninth-grade year ended, the official beginning of our summer, the first thing I did was go to the tree house to see Billy. By the time I finally got to Aunt Lois's, she was already preparing dinner."Hello," I called to our aunt, who was sitting in her dining room snooting string beans, pinching each head between two beautifully manicured nails. The beans dropped once, once, once, against the bottom of her large aluminum pot.I hadn't even closed the front door before she sat bolt upright in her chair to look at me, suddenly aware of the hour. "You're late,"
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REVIEWS

Praise for Broken as Things Are

"A sensitive southern tale of weirdly imaginative children and hapless adults. Ms. Witt has staked out a territory somewhere between Harper Lee and Flannery O'Connor." --E.L. Doctorow

"Seductive...The reward of this intense read is a sister’s thoughtful struggle for a way to love her sibling without losing herself." --Entertainment Weekly

"Witt's riveting debut is a disturbing, accomplished novel ....Wildly imaginative and intelligent...an often profound, unsettling story of children struggling to understand love, truth, and sacrifice." --Booklisit

"Everything you come upon seems absolutely new. A real wonder." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Many first novels are stories about coming of age in a dysfunctional family; few are as daring or poised as Hillsborough native Martha Witt's Broken as Things Are, a southern gothic tale of obsession....Morgan-Lee is one of the most complex and intriguing adolescents to grace the pages of a novel in quite some time." --The Charlotte Observer

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Martha Witt

  • Martha Witt grew up in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Currently, she lives in New York City. Broken as Things Are is her first novel.
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Available Formats and Book Details

Broken as Things Are

A Novel

Martha Witt

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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