The Broken Places by Susan Perabo

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Susan Perabo's short-story collection, Who I Was Supposed to Be, was named a Best Book of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Boston Globe proclaimed the debut "a stunning introduction to a fresh new literary talent." Now Susan Perabo returns with The Broken Places, her eagerly anticipated novel about love and honor and how the aftermath of one terrifying night -- and one heroic act -- affects a close-knit family.
Twelve-year-old Paul Tucker knows his family is something akin to royalty in small-town Casey, Pennsylvania. His father, Sonny, is a dedicated career fireman, in line for the position of chief, long held by Paul's late grandfather, a local legend whose heroics continue to occupy the hearts and minds of all who knew and worked with him. Paul's mother, Laura, is a math teacher at the high school; Paul is sometimes annoyed by her worries over him (and her apparent lack of worry over his father), but his life is generally untroubled, his future bright, his time measured by sport seasons.
But on a windy October day, the collapse of an abandoned farmhouse forever alters the fates and perceptions of Paul, his family, and those closest to them. Sonny and the other Casey firemen attempt a dangerous rescue to reach a teenager buried under the rubble, and when Sonny himself is trapped by a secondary collapse, Paul, his mother, and the crowd of onlookers believe the worst. The wait is excruciating; it's baby Jessica all over again, but this time the "innocent victim" is sixteen-year-old Ian Finch, a swastika-tattooed hoodlum who may have brought the house down on himself while building bombs. Still, when Sonny emerges from the rubble hours later, the maimed teenager in his arms, the rescue becomes a minor miracle and a major public relations event, a validation of all things American and true. Sonny is immediately hailed as a national hero. And Paul's life is suddenly, and irrevocably, changed.
Beyond the limelight, the parades, and the intrusion of the national media into a quiet and predictable life, the Tucker household balance is upset. And Ian Finch's curious and continued involvement in Sonny's life creates a new and troubling set of hurdles for Paul to overcome. Somehow, though his father has been saved, he continues to slip through Paul's fingers. Secrets, lies, and changing alliances threaten Paul's relationship with his father and his mother and his understanding of what holds a family -- and a town -- together.
The Broken Places is a brilliant meditation on the psychology of heroism, the definition of family, and the true meaning of honor. With pitch-perfect dialogue, subtle but stunning insights, and a dazzling ability to uncork the quiet power of each character, Susan Perabo's The Broken Places uncovers and celebrates the unsettling truths of human nature.

About Susan Perabo

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Susan Perabo is the writer in residence and an associate professor of En-glish at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Glimmer Train, Story, TriQuarterly, and The Missouri Review, and in the anthologies Best American Short Stories and New Stories from the South. She is the author of a novel, The Broken Places.
Published November 3, 2001 by Simon & Schuster. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The rescue effort tests the mettle of Casey’s fire-department captain, Sonny Tucker, a fireman’s fireman whose idyllic life includes his son (the protagonist), 12-year-old Paul, who watches first as his father becomes trapped under the house with Finch, then as both emerge with the chilling tale ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Small-town fame is a blessing at first and then a curse in this modest, carefully composed novel about the 12-year-old descendant of two generations of heroic firemen. Growing up in Casey, Pa., Pau

Aug 06 2001 | Read Full Review of The Broken Places

The Guardian

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Juniper Tree Burning by Goldberry Long Simon & Schuster £7.99, pp459 The Broken Places by Susan Perabo Bloomsbury £9.99, pp254 Sex and Genius by Conrad Williams Bloomsbury £10.99, pp311 Sweet Fire by Pat MacEnulty Serpent's Tail £8.99, pp320 With pundits mulling over the literary highlights of th...

Dec 08 2002 | Read Full Review of The Broken Places

The Guardian

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Twelve-year-old Paul's dad, Sonny, is a level-headed, nice-as-pie fireman whose father was a fireman before him - aptly (if you're British, anyway) named Sam.

Jan 18 2003 | Read Full Review of The Broken Places

Publishers Weekly

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Then one day, Sonny is called to a collapsed house to rescue 16-year-old Ian Finch, a swastika-tattooed rebel who was experimenting with explosives.

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Book Reporter

The rescue becomes, of all things, a major news story, and the ensuing publicity causes Sonny to become a cause celebre.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Broken Places

Entertainment Weekly

Having demonstrated in ''Who I Was Supposed to Be,'' her muscular debut collection of short stories, that she can write in voices male and female, young and old, Susan Perabo distributes her loyalties equally in The Broken Places.

Aug 15 2001 | Read Full Review of The Broken Places

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