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The Dew Breaker

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  6,607 ratings  ·  686 reviews
We meet him late in life: a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him, and learn that he has also kept a vital, dangerous secret. Edwidge Danticat' ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Pauline McGonagle This was very good but I like her 'The Farming of Bones 'even better.Wonderful writer who captures the trauma that history has left in such a troubled…moreThis was very good but I like her 'The Farming of Bones 'even better.Wonderful writer who captures the trauma that history has left in such a troubled place.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,607 ratings  ·  686 reviews


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PorshaJo
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the things I love about GR is discovering new authors and new books. One day I happened to read a review of The Dew Breaker, both an author and book I never heard of before. I was interested. A number of days later I went to my library book sale and came across this book and snatched it up. Didn't even think twice about it. Then, it sat on my shelves for two years. Finally, the day came and I picked it up and I was hooked.

The Dew Breaker is a series of stories of various peoples lives in
...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
"Aline had never imagined that people like Beatrice existed, men and women whose tremendous agonies filled every blank space in their lives. Maybe there were hundred, even thousands, of people like this, men and women chasing fragments of themselves long lost to others."

Although this quote appears later in the book, it sums up succinctly what these linking stories encompass. People who were tortured by the Dew Breaker, or family members were, people who think they see him and even the people who
...more
Maxwell
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, black-authors
3.5 stars

The Dew Breaker is a story in nine parts. Each part could be read as its own short story, and I vacillate between liking and disliking this structure. Usually I'd enjoy something like this, but the stories are at times so loosely connected that it's hard to see the bigger picture. And yet, part of me likes the way the author drops information ever so carefully, that it makes a sort of puzzle out of the reading.

Regardless, the stories are beautifully written and tragically told. You get
...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars

Finished this book earlier in the month. I held off reviewing it because the story was so disjointed for me. I tried to go back and reread a bit of it, then tried to read each vignette separately, but neither really worked for me. I clearly did not like this book as much as others did. I just felt that each story meandered along, with a couple sentences relating back to the general premise of the book. This book was hard for me to pick back up and complete.

Story line is a man with a deep
...more
Kathleen
Winner of The Story Prize, Pen/Faulkner Award Finalist, a Washington Post Book World Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Press Best Book of the Year and National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, THE DEW BREAKER by Edwidge Danticat has a beautiful cover.

"With characteristic lyricism and grace, Danticat proves the painful legacy of a time when sons turned against their fathers, children were orphaned, and communities were torn apart."-The Philadelphia
...more
Moonkiszt
This book of stories, strung like beads on the fibers of a common source, from differing viewpoint seems to reflect the heartbreak of Haiti, most of which confounded me. This is not my usual reading fare, but I am working through a list of books that must be read before I die. . .so this one now is done. Read. Not sure what it has brought me. When I complete a book and have that thought, I'm left with a feeling of failure.

Edwidge Danicat (what a lovely name. . . .) does have a wonderful way of
...more
Debra
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Maybe this is the beginning of madness...
Forgive me for what I am saying.
Read it...quietly, quietly.

-Osip Mandelstam

The title of this book "Dew Breaker" "comes from a Creole phrase which refers to those who break the serenity of the grass in the morning dew. It is a Creole nickname for torturer."The "Dew Breakers" are a group of volunteers who tortured and killed thousands of civilians under the regimes of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti.

This book is a combination of short st
...more
Olivia
The Dew Breaker is a book organized into 9 sections (chapters), which are all perfectly able to stand alone as short stories. Each chapter features different characters and different points of view, and seem random at first, but by the end you realize they’re all interlocking and related in some way.

The novel is about an unnamed prison guard/torturer who was part of the Tonton Macoutes, the voluntary militia under Jean-Claude Duvalier’s reign in Haiti. The book is just as much about his life an
...more
Libby
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Irene
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
These are interconnected stories which revolve around a former Haitian torturer now living a quiet life in the United States, his former identity known only to his wife. The characterizations were fantastic. The experiences of Haitians living through a brutal dictatorship and its aftermath in exile was powerfully conveyed.
Brian Sweany
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Much like Tim O'Brien's THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, this book lingers in that nebulous hinterland between short story and novel where few writers have the gumption or the ability to tread. Each chapter is a self-contained story, with divergent and seemingly random settings--Haiti in the dictatorial 1960s, Manhattan in the 1970s, Brooklyn and Queens in the 21st century. And yet slowly, irrevocably, the reader is drawn into the shared love, the shared remorse, the shared history, the shared hope, the ...more
AC
Students will like this book. Very moving, thoughtful, and well-constructed.
R K
This book. This fantastic gem of a book. This little book containing an abundance of talent is one of the best books I've read this year. This book handles trauma the way it is experienced, and that is saying something. This is a collection of short stories that are not overtly complex or long, yet, Danticat is able to weave a story through each story, thus, connecting them all together.

The messages she sends to the reader are not told to you directly and this is very crucial to the story. You
...more
Savvy
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Agony and Atonement...

The Dew Breaker is my first taste of the gift of storytelling by Edwidge Danticat......but it won't be my last!

As the novel opens, revealing shocking secrets of the past, it's clear that the reader will not be disappointed.

The Dew Breaker's title comes from a Creole phrase referring to `Tontons Macoutes' (Haitian volunteer torturers) during the regime of the Duvaliers in Haiti. They would often come in the early dawn to take their victims away...thus the broke the serenit
...more
Irene
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
There is an idea here.. an idea for what could have been a very unique and interesting book and some of it was written beautifully but it could have been so much more if the author had only gone into the characters and their inner worlds more. No sooner would I, the reader, become interested in a character then she'd jump to something completely new and different. In short, the book was all shallow no depth for me.
Big Lou's Book Reviews
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
People struggling with their Haitian- American identity will find The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat useful. This is because throughout the book several characters move from Haiti to America and have to find their place in society. Additionally, people struggling with their cultural identity, in general, can benefit from reading The Dew Breaker. The reader can apply lessons learned by the characters in the book into their own life. The Dew Breaker can be used in a scholastic setting or for a ca ...more
billyskye
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific book. Don’t @ me.

The Dew Breaker reminds me of The Things They Carried, but centers on Haitian expats coping with haunting reverberations of the Duvalier regime instead of on American veterans living with memories of the war in Vietnam. The writing is lovely. The characters well-imagined and heartbreaking. The stories are loosely (but masterfully) connected. Together they flesh out a world that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

I picked this up under the mistaken imp
...more
Sara
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: caribbean
A quiet Haitian man in NYC with an artist daughter, a secret he and his wife have been hiding from her from their time in Haiti is slowly unearthed: this is the basic plot of Danticat’s beautifully written novel. The nine parts could stand alone as short stories, but they work together to show the effects of revolution, violence, and the choices made during those times on all the people around you, whether you’re aware of them or not. The stories and the topics in this novel cover kept calling t ...more
Ali
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It reminds me of 'Go Down Moses' in its blurring of the lines between novel and linked short stories. It also blurs the victim/victimizer lines in smart, complicated ways. Read it. Teach it. It's great.
Maggie
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Dew Breaker reads like a dream, in both senses of the phrase (silky smooth, and like the nocturnal neuronal firings). More like a recurring dream in which every night you take the place of a different character and watch the same scene with different eyes. You have to let go of your usual waking-hours desire for continuity and consistency of characters.

The book is beautifully written, as I've come to expect from Danticat. Beautiful and nearly perfectly crafted. I've heard the story described
...more
Mark
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
We are introduced to a Haitian man, living in Brooklyn. He emigrated here, over thirty years ago. He is a good father and a good husband. He also has a very dark past, which involved, working as a prison guard, in his homeland. Rumors of atrocities abound...
We are then shown separate stories, of the lives of other Haitians, as they deal with the struggles of life and each of them has some connection, with the “Dew Breaker”, (or torturer).
This was my first novel, by this author and I was quite i
...more
☕Laura
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ratings (1 to 5)
Writing: 4
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Emotional impact: 4
Overall rating: 3.75
Mandy
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book about a man, some of the horrible things he did in his past, and how he has (tried(?)) to start anew. This book was written in a format where each chapter had it's own story about a different character(s). Each character tied into the main story/character. I usually really love this type of book, and for the most part I loved this one. However, I am not sure if I really felt that the overall story had closure. Maybe that was the point. (How can a story like this really have closu ...more
Lynn
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Dew Breaker, such a lovely title for a book. Sadly, the name refers to torturers who operated in Haiti as part of the Tonton Macoute in the Duvalier reign. Edwidge Danticat tells a story of a family through non-sequential interconnected stories. It's heart-breaking and a sombre reminder of a terrible time in Haiti's history.

It has been quite a few years since I read a book by Danticat. This was a lovely reminder of the beauty of her writing and the ease with which she tells complex stories.
...more
Gary
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The brutality, terror and shame of Papa (and Baby) Doc's Haiti is transported to the diaspora streets of NYC. Such sins cannot be absolved by simply leaving. This book is a series of linked sketches that bind a pair of immigrants to their past in the villages and militias of their home, which is never far away. A touching and perceptive story of love and grief.
Allison Schroeder
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn’t love love any of the characters and some of the stories seemed thrown in here but it kept my interest and I always enjoy a book with history
FreeFormLady
I would like to give it 4 stars for Danticat's beautiful writing style. However, short stories just fall short for me.
Jenny Shank
Nov 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn...

Haitian lives, Haitian scars

BOOK INFORMATION
The Dew Breaker
Our Rating A
Author: Edwidge Danticat
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 242 pages
Genre: Fiction
Price: $22
By Jenny Shank, Special To The News
March 12, 2004

Despite her youth, Edwidge Danticat has always written with the gravity and insight of a wise old seer. Still, she could not have foreseen that civil unrest would break out in her native Haiti again, just before the publication of her new novel, The Dew Break
...more
Michael Lindy
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I suppose I should not go very far into reviewing "The Dew Breaker" before pointing out the style for which it has gained a certain amount of attention. The structure of "The Dew Breaker" is made out of a myriad of stories, some tying into each other, and others functioning in what is seemingly their own separate world. Not every character knows the other, and not there is no moment where the stories join together. But although the characters may not know each other, they each share the same bac ...more
Lea Ann
Generally this was a good book. I enjoyed reading about Haitian and Haitian American culture and I will probably be looking into more of Haiti's political past that makes up so much of the story.

I wish I had approached the book differently when I began reading it, because I started out with the impression that all the stories were connected, and somehow connected to one of the characters in the first chapter. However, each chapter jumped around so wildly in time, place and setting that it would
...more
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1,911 followers
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beac ...more

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