In Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler tells Scarlett, “Scarlett, I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken–and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken pieces as long as I lived.” I’ve always remembered that statement as a poignant example of man’s inability to mend broken lives and broken relationships, or even to conceive of the possibility of broken lives made new.
Broken for You, however, is not about mending broken things and broken people into an imperfect replica of what once was whole. It’s about taking the broken pieces and making something new. The characters in the book are atheists, Catholics and Jews; the most redemptive and Christlike character is a Jewish holocaust survivor. The ideas and the themes in the book seem to me to be Christian, as evidenced first by the quotations that introduce this spiritual parable:
“They’re so much more than objects. They’re living things, crafted and used by people like us. They reach out to us and through them we forge a link with the past. —Gwendolen Plestcheeff, decorative arts collector (1892-1994)
” . . . He took Bread, and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take, eat, this is my Body which is given for you.’” Mark 14:22.
Broken things really aren’t worth much if they’re broken and then glued back together into their original form. A glued and broken teacup always shows the crack and can’t be trusted to hold tea. Broken lives can’t be remade into what they were before either. And only a miracle worker, a transcendent God, can take the broken pieces and make something new and meaningful out of them.
In the story, a broken woman, crippled in body and mind, uses the broken pieces from a fortune in dishes and ceramics and glassware to create Art with a new meaning all its own. And in the process, a curse is lifted, a community is born and nurtured, a family is reunited, and a prodigal comes home. The coincidences, or miracles if you will, in the story are sometimes unbelievable. The frequent changes in person and point of view were disconcerting but had the effect of engaging me as a reader and making me work at the novel rather than their pushing me away in frustration. Others may find the use of second person in particular to tell part of the story more than disconcerting, but persistence pays off.
Altogether Broken for You is a remarkable first novel. In case I’ve given anyone the wrong impression, it’s not a “Christian” novel, per se, not published by a Christian publishing house. Nevertheless, the themes resonate with a Christian worldview. I’d like to pursue and read more of Ms. Kallos’s work.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is passed away; all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17