Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets” as Want to Read:
How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  2,769 Ratings  ·  338 Reviews
“Funny, bewitching, observant.”—The Oregonian

“Hits all the frets of a powerful story: sharp-witted dialogue, vivid characters, insight into medical challenges and prose that snaps like well-placed plucks of guitar strings. . . . I hold up my lighter and turn it full-flame for [Garth] Stein’s latest work. Encore!”—The Seattle Times

“Compelling.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Soho Press (first published April 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 10, 2011 Jayme rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2010 Ruben rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I jumped into this book fresh off The Art of Racing in the Rain, as I'm sure many others have done. It's a great story with a lot of relationships that break and mend and break again. Although I found the main character, Evan, to be sufficiently likable, his character was not different enough from the main character of "Racing" for me to fully identify with him. This is a situation where the order the books are read affects one's appreciation of them, though it's the reverse of the order of publ ...more
Barbara Chapman
Nov 11, 2013 Barbara Chapman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all time favorite books. It was by an unknown author and I just pulled it off the shelf of the library. What a delight to find such a page turner. When his ex girlfriend dies, Evan, a struggling musician, becomes an instant father to his 14 year old son. Amongst all this, he is dealing with his own family relationships and with the secrets of his epilepsy. It makes for a very touching read.
Jan 12, 2013 Hassinger rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: do-not-reread

How Evan Broke His Head And Other Stories is a melodramatic work; character depth, logical cause and effect, and the meaning of the story are sacrificed for the sake of drama. The characters are constantly at each other's throats. Their dialogue is confusing and convoluted and goes on for pages and pages. The story's premise is interesting, but the execution is poor, leaving the story underdeveloped and muddled.

If you are considering reading this book because you enjoyed The Art Of Racing In The
Jul 11, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
Again I loved Stein's writing. This book was really great and had some good messages in it. I loved Evan and really wanted him to be happy and suceed. At times it was a little frustrating not knowing what was going on with him and Tracy's life after she left. It was all kind of too secretive and a little anti-climatic, because you never really find out what exactly happened to Evan or Dean in their childhoods. But I definitely like Garth Stein and will read more of his books, when he writes them ...more
Theresa Mannix
Oct 01, 2007 Theresa Mannix rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Northwest fiction lovers
The Pacific Northwest's answer to "About a Boy". At age 30, Evan finds out his old high-school girlfriend has died. He also discovers that her 14-year-old son is his. So, how does this new son fit in with his kind of directionless, very single life? Evan is about to re-launch a once-promising music career in Seattle and he's just started a relationship with a new woman. In addition, he has never been open about his epilepsy. Meanwhile his sullen son Dean is not so keen on this instant father stu ...more
Mar 08, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book confirmed that I love Garth Stein's books. This story was about a carefree musician who suddenly has to look after his 14 year old son that he has never known. It brings up old family demons and Evan's battle with epilepsy. And it is a bonus that it takes place around Seattle so things are familiar.

Now I am going to look for Stein'sRaven Stole the Moon
Larry Strattner
Apr 11, 2014 Larry Strattner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You're going to like this one a little less than Art of Racing in the Rain but if you liked one you may like the other just fine.

How Evan Broke..... is a more frustrating trip because, A. the narrator is not a lovable dog and B. as with all frustrating scenarios, they play out with you yelling to no one who's listening, "No don't do that, say that, go that way!" It's like watching one of those horror films where the idiot character is doing something stupid you can see will end badly, but they p
Khris Sellin
Sep 03, 2012 Khris Sellin rated it liked it
Evan Wallace is a 31-year-old frustrated guitar player, still trying to make it big in the Seattle music scene. He's also an epileptic, since a car accident at age 12, who's been treated like damaged goods by his family ever since. His father is a heart surgeon, his brother is a lawyer, and his parents have built a veritable shrine to his brother at their house. And, oh, yeah, he fathered a child with his high school girlfriend back when he was 17, but he's never had any contact with him. Sudden ...more
Apr 25, 2011 L rated it really liked it
Garth Stein writes vivid stories set in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest that make a local think that if they don't actually know his characters, they must have at least run into them somewhere (at the Croc, maybe, or getting coffee at B&O Espresso, or in the line at Dick's late at night) or have a friend who knows them. How Evan Broke his Head is the story of an amazing guitarist (Evan) who has Epilepsy and reunites with the a son he had with his high school girlfriend after she dies sudde ...more
Apr 16, 2009 Evan rated it liked it
I would, if possible, rate this one a three-and-half. I figured, coming off of Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain," and having a book with my name in the title, things could not go wrong. And while that remained true, things never really went right with this one either. All in all, it was a decent story, it had a few nice passages here and there, but frankly, I am not expecting to remember a lot about this book the farther time moves me away from it.

The other thing that was not my favorite,
Art Tirrell
Oct 04, 2007 Art Tirrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: alltimefavorites

Epilepsy has rarely been examined in fiction.
In How Even Broke his Head and Other Stories, Garth Stein puts an end to the silence.

With cool and measured precision, he introduces us to Evan Wallace, epileptic, and then forces us to watch Evan's ever-so-slow drift toward the inevitable seizure. Along the way, somehow, we find ourselves hoping Evan's efforts to ward it off, control his grip on consciousness, will succeed because at stake is the love of his son - a son he'
Feb 17, 2009 Stacy rated it really liked it
The city of Seattle is a great back-drop to the story. Hip music scene. Very well written.

I appreciate how Evan was finally faced with things that both thrilled and scared him...and how those were catalysts for his transformation into an adulthood of responsibility and accountability.

I like that this is a story about a man's new relationship with his son. It's rocky and nobody's perfect.

Mica seems too good to be true, although the author covered that a bit with an explanation of her desperatio
Jan 05, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: bbcs-books
It started off slow and ended with my least favorite types of endings: the vague one. The middle was filled with characters making bad decisions that made me want to shout into the book... and you're thinking this is a bad review, aren't you?

Actually I enjoyed the book quite a lot. After the slow beginning I really got interested in the characters and although I wanted to throttle Evan's son Dean and scream at Evan at times, I also couldn't stop reading and always wanted to know more about what
Jan 31, 2009 Penny rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because I read 'The Art of Racing in the Rain', which I absolutely loved. I was amazed at how quickly I went through this book....there is something about the the main character, Evan Wallace; Garth brings him to life. Garth Stein is on my 'must read' list of anything that he has written or will write in the future. Great read.
Mar 18, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-novels
This book was so engaging, I was up til 3:30 this morning finishing it. I simply could not put it down. A compelling story, extremely well written, true dialog, amusing, and it made me cry. The whole package. Read it!
Jul 03, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it
I initially got this book because it is set in Seattle and was really quite entertained from beginning to end. It's so fun to read a book and actually live where the characters move through the story.
Kris Gill
Apr 26, 2008 Kris Gill rated it it was amazing
This is a story about what it takes to become a father, building trust, and taking chances with people by telling them the truth. Garth Stein is a wonderful writer. I highly recommend all of his books!
Stephen Gallup
Apr 06, 2014 Stephen Gallup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need more stars to rate this one fairly. Based on the way I've sometimes handed them out in the past, five isn't enough.

I enjoyed it so much, and was so moved by the conclusion, that I turned back to the beginning and am now reading it a second time, just to admire the way it's put together. I now see, for example, that chapter one works like the overture of a musical, in that it prefigures the shape of the overall narrative. I see the first appearances of what will be recurring themes and pat
Kristin Tomany
Apr 07, 2014 Kristin Tomany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book: I read it in two days and it has sealed my love of Garth Stein (I read "The Art of Racing in the Rain" last year). That said, this is definitely a "less polished" or less mature work than "Racing" - there were some places he could have gone that he didn't and the book wrapped up quickly, and while I felt and appreciated where he was going, I wish he had gone ahead and taken us there. But, by all means, read the book - its another great story of fatherhood and well worth a ...more
Apr 17, 2009 Monte rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Stein is clearly aiming for Nick Hornby territory in this novel about thirtysomething musician Evan, who is suddenly required to parent Dean, the teenage son he's never even met, when Dean's mom is killed in an accident. Evan, who suffers from epilepsy, is the lead guitar player in a promising Seattle rock band. As he struggles to integrate his son into his routine, he must also wrestle with unresolved issues, including his fractious relationship with his parents and with his straight-arrrow bro ...more
Jul 28, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
compelling characters, you wanted things to work out for Evan... but, well, you'll have to figure it out for yourself by reading; who could expect to have to come to terms with being a Dad of a 14 year old, when it was thrust upon him at the funeral of the boy's mom!??! That doesn't sound a bit contrived, does it? So, although Evan's son Dean, is stuck in a rough spot... aren't we all -- there were times the sequence of events seemed forced and you almost lose interest, but you really want to se ...more
Sara Diane
Oct 02, 2014 Sara Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2014, for-mary
I am ever so glad my friend David told me to read one of Stein's books a few years ago, because Stein is one of those rare writers that just gets life in this lovely way that few people do.

This is a coming of age story, but it's not about a teenager (Evan is 31). It's a story about relationships, about memory, and about how we can't convince ourselves of things that may or may not have happened. It's about growing and learning and discovering what you want out of life.

Mr. Stein, please write mo
Aug 24, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it
This book is comfortably written and although it is male character-centric and voiced, it's enjoyable and relatable for women as well. Garth Stein has a way of injecting the greatest humor without it being noticeable. For a simple description of a multi-function machine, for example, he threw in that it was a copier, fax machine, printer and waffle maker. I had to read the sentence over and over to realize that that was a genius joke...but I assume and am hopeful that other readers will be quick ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-life-issues
Stein did it to me again.
I fell in love with the characters in this book.
The story line was somewhat predictable, with a few surprises here and there, but the writing made up for it. I liked how Stein made every character lovable while emphasizing their flaws. The relationships between characters and how they interacted was realistic and well thought out. We all have secrets. We all live in some sort of lie. Even if we don't know that it's a lie.
Sep 09, 2008 Dana rated it liked it
I like Stein's writing style, and his grounding of his stories in the Pacific Northwest. (In both books of his that I've read, however, there are plot points that confound me or don't ring true for me.)
Evan is an adult who's still a teenager in a lot of ways. He has epilepsy, which is a huge secret he keeps from nearly everyone in his life. (With sometimes predictable consequences.) He is getting to know his 14-year old son for the first time, following the boy's mother's death. Evan's story inc
Sep 08, 2009 Jen rated it liked it
Recommended to Jen by: Julie
Too many loose ends. He tried to clear them up, but it was done inartfully and felt very rushed.

Also, it wasn't written (or edited) very well. There were a lot of changes between first person and third person telling, sometimes right in the middle of a paragraph which was very distracting.

The story itself was new, creative and interesting. I just think it could have been done better. It was a fine read, and I'm not disappointed in reading it, but I think Stein hadn't really hit his stride yet w
Aug 22, 2015 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved "The Art of Racing in the Rain". When Stein's first two books were on sale on Amazon, I snapped them up. Having also read his newest "A Sudden Light", this is now the last of his books (as of 2015) I've read. I'd rate it as better than "Raven Stole The Moon", and not as good as his other two. If you've enjoyed Stein's other work, you'll likely enjoy this. If you haven't read Stein, start with "The Art of Racing in the Rain".

The beginning of "Evan" could certainly be a turn-off, opening a
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I read Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain" a few months ago and adored it - it was a very memorable and inspiring book for me. I knew this would be different, but I am disappointed in how much so. Maybe it's unfair to compare these two books, but I couldn't help it. There's a similar voice - Enzo, a dog and the protagonist in Racing in the Rain, has a voice that's simple but still rich, particularly when considering he's a dog. In "How Evan," our prota ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there is one thing that Garth Stein can do it's WRITE. His first book was a complete hit and in my collection of re-reads. This book although it does not make the re-reads list it does make you more informed about the world of epilepsy and the choices a caring and concerned brother makes so that his younger brother doesn't have to suffer through a particular situation in their childhood. Along the way there are many choices that Evan has made that have put dampers on his life or made his life ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rape New York
  • El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City
  • The Case of the Frozen Addicts
  • Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model
  • Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman's Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones
  • The Crime of Sheila McGough
  • Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools
  • Which Side Are You on?: Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on Its Back
  • Asylum Denied: A Refugee's Struggle for Safety in America
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man
  • Peoples and Empires: A Short History of European Migration, Exploration, and Conquest, from Greece to the Present
  • A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflict
  • The Good Society: The Humane Agenda
  • Sex and Social Justice
  • Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century
  • Fear: A Cultural History
  • Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America
  • Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire
Garth Stein is the author of four novels: the New York Times bestselling gothic/historical/coming-of-age/ghost story, "A Sudden Light"; the internationally bestselling "The Art of Racing in the Rain"; the PNBA Book Award winner, "How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets"; and the magically realistic "Raven Stole the Moon." He is also the author of the stage play "Brother Jones." He has a dog, he' ...more
More about Garth Stein...

Share This Book

“And it is clear to Evan, now: the difference between what is and what has been done; the present and the past. He sees that what he does and who he is isn't based on the past unless he wants it to be... No. That is the past, which has been seen differently through many different eyes and has become hazy and unclear, like a pond when stirred with a stick. Only the present moment is clear and free from prejudice.” 7 likes
“Music doesn’t have a bedtime,” 1 likes
More quotes…