Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: Unbroken by Jamie Lisa Forbes

 Unbroken by Jamie Lisa Forbes
Publisher: Pronghorn Press
Publish Date: May 20, 2010
Paperback, 324 pages
Fiction, Women's Fiction
 ISBN: 978-1932636611

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My Review: 
I don't read many books about life in the west, but the books I do read appeal to me.  Something about learning about this tough way of life just brings me right into the book and into the plot.  The women are tough, they have to be, it's the only way they can survive, at least from what I can gather.  Unbroken is one of those books.  It spans the period of several years, a lot of heartache and learning and some really tough women who still need someone to lean on when the going gets tough.  It's a family saga of sorts, it's women's fiction of sorts, it's about ranching and it's about so much more.  I don't even think I can capture in this review the essence of this book, but it captured my heart and mind for the better part of a day. I thought it was well worth my time and I was wishing it didn't have to end.

The main characters of Unbroken are Gwen and Meg.  Both tough ranching women and both very different.  Meg is skittish, she's been hurt.  She's recently divorced, and she's raising her son on her own while making a go of a lifestyle that few women choose to do on their own.  Gwen is married with two kids and a father-in-law and she's at a point that she's feeling a little resentful of ranch life and the toll it takes on her, her children and her marriage.  Her friendship with Meg is a little forced at the beginning but over time the women become good friends.  I liked getting to know both Gwen and Meg through the elements of ranching and parenting.  It framed them and made them easy and interesting to get to know.  I also liked seeing how they grew and changed around each other.  How Meg admired Gwen and how Gwen admired Meg.  Both thought the other was strong.  It's always greener on the other side.  How very true in life.

As far as the plot goes, Ms. Forbes doesn't waste time, the story speeds along through time, the cattle give birth, winter comes and goes, various people die (I will admit to crying from time-to-time) and the big plot events happen.  And just when you think you have the story figured out, it takes a new turn and you learn to admire the characters even more.  This isn't a laugh a minute story.  It's tough, it's real, but that's what I liked about it.  No punches are pulled, but I liked the resilience of the characters and how they don't give up even when it would have been easier.  To me that was the great take-away value of the book, don't give up.

Unbroken was a very satisfying read for me.  I had an afternoon of peace with my husband and children gone and I was still recovering from being sick and I just relished reading this book.  I found myself putting off eating so I could read "just one more chapter" because I was so involved in the lives of the characters.  Ms. Forbes has a way of drawing you into the lives of the characters and making you feel like you are there living and working beside them, being friends with them.  It's wonderful and when the book is over you feel sad, because you want more of the story even though the story has come to it's conclusion.  But you want more because you don't want to leave the characters.  To me that is the mark of a good book, when the characters and the storyline stay with me after finishing.  When I'm still thinking about something they said or did or wondering about a point the author was making or even applying something to my life.  Unbroken has something for everyone.  Descriptions of ranching life, romance, friendship, parenting, tough decisions and so much more.  There is never a lull in the plot and I found it to be an amazing read.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Gwen Swan’s dreams of a life as a rancher’s wife have withered through years of 24/7 chores and warring family members. Bitterness has tarnished her outlook and troubles with her son, Rory, burden her hopes for the future.

Meg Braeburn, who has broken away from her family’s ranch, expects hard work when she takes a job on the place neighboring the Swans’. She is determined to leave a troubled past behind, yet she does not foresee how isolation will corrode her resolve. Over time, she is grateful for the friendship and support that Gwen extends to her.
But as the ranching seasons grind relentlessly onward, hearts seek comfort where it can be found and the womens’ bond is strained as both the Swan family and the Braeburn family find themselves struggling against the elements and each other to continue their way of life.

About the Author: 
Jamie Lisa Forbes was born and raised on a family ranch along the Little Laramie River in southeast Wyoming. After graduation from the University of Colorado in 1977, she studied and worked in Israel for over a year and then returned to Wyoming where she ranched and raised a family for the next 15 years. After the family ranch was sold in 1993, she moved to North Carolina and eventually began law school at the University of North Carolina. While in law school, she started her debut novel, Unbroken. Unbroken won the 2011 WILLA Literary Award for outstanding contemporary fiction featuring women in the West. Ms. Forbes practices law in Greensboro, North Carolina and is working on a second novel.


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FTC Information: I received this book from the publisher from the author through for an honest review.  I do make money from purchases made at The Book Depository, Alibris and B&, but all money is used to fund giveaways and shipping for giveaways from the blog.


Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm so glad you loved the book!

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