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# Broken

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,105 ratings  ·  306 reviews
Skunk Cunningham is an eleven-year-old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad, an absent mother and a brother who plays more X-Box than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their thuggish father Bob, vicious bullies all of them, whose reign of terror extends unchallenged over their otherwise quiet suburban street. And yet terrifyi ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published October 2008 by HarperCollins (first published June 1st 2008)

## Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.86  ·
Rating details
·  2,105 ratings  ·  306 reviews

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May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who like light, heartfelt drama
Page one - what the hell am I reading?
One third through - this isn't so bad after all.
Two thirds through - damn, I can't put this down.
Epilogue - wow, what a good book.

Well, that's my mini-review. The full review goes something like this: someone recommended this first novel from a British writer to me and wasn't exactly sure how to describe it. It's part drama, part comedy, told from the perspective of an eleven year old girl. There's a lot of British slang and street vernacular in it, which is
...more
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shocking!!!!
This book jars the readers minds and emotions with the series of violent and unexpected blows. It tells the intertwining stories of three families and it reminded me of the movie Crash. I loved that movie and I absolutely love this book. It made me wonder why do some people learn how to survive and some don't.
Can a lamb learn how to fight off a lion?

Eleven year old Skunk Cunningham (love the name) is playing on the curb in front of her house (on Drummond Square in the suburbs of Lo
...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This was amazing. I was really looking forward to reading this book, but I had no idea what I was in store for. Let me start by saying that I've finished this book, and I still feel in the pit of my stomach that something horrible is going to happen. Yes, it's one of those books. Now, I realize that some people are going to hate this book because a lot of the stuff that happens is a bit over the top, but to me it all seemed to be reasonable. Sure, I'd hope people don't deal with shit the wa ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
fabulous book, made me laugh, made me cry (especially at the end). I'm not usually a fan of modern British novels especially those with chav type characters but this novel really drew me in and in the end I even felt a bit sorry for the head of the Oswald family (evil incarnate!) This is a real roller coaster first novel, not for the faint hearted but I feel the denouement leaves the reader with some sort of hope for the future or maybe I'm too much of an optimist! ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
When I started this book I didn't think I could finish it as it was a grim reminder of what modern life is or could be like but it gradually reeled me in until I could't put it down. It made me angry,it made me smile and it made me cry.It is ultimately about love in all its forms and what drives people to do what they do in the name of it. I defy you not to feel all emotions when reading it. ...more
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Broken people, beautiful somewhat subtle message. Different writing. Love the ending.
Jan 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up for $4.00 at a used book store. The cover is what drew me in, I love it. Then, I read that it was inspired by 'To Kill a Mockingbird', one of my favorites. This is a classic case of 'don't judge a book by it's cover'. I actually want my$4.00 back.

The synopsis made it sound like a pretty good book. A neighborhood mystery. I started reading it and saw that the main character and narrator was in a coma, that just intrigued me more. Sadly, that was the high point and that was
...more
Apr 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'd call this a modern-day 'To Kill A Mockingbird' - and I'm sure that Daniel Clay has based his story on Harper Lee's original novel. Set in a street in modern day Southampton and narrated by Skunk who is laying in a coma and lives with her brother Jed and lawyer single father Archie - the 'Broken' of the title is nineteen year old Rick Buckley who plunges into a spiral of madness after being falsely accused by one of the Oswald sisters. The Oswald family are brilliantly depicted - five tearawa ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I get your subtle (Or not) hints Daniel. Britain is Broken. Very clever that it is dressed up in a character called Broken but I get what you were saying. Comedy stereotypical shaven headed bullying state scrounging fathers with chav like lying scum slutty daughters take on everyone else. And no one in authority cares. The Police don't care, in all three interactions they are referred too not just "Police" but the "uninterested police", the Doctor doesn't care, the Social workers don't care, The ...more
Well. That certainly took a turn, didn’t it?
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Drawn in from the get go. This isn't the most comfortable of reads but incredibly satisfying. The characters are well drawn, flawed and completely believable. It reminded me of the sadness I felt reading the Lovely Bones. Sadness at the loss of innocence and the everyday failings of ordinary people. This book reminds us that people can be cruel and thoughtless and not everyone has the ability to deal with that as well as they might do. I couldn't put this book down and read it in one sitting. Ex ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: Petra
This is one messed up little book.

I'm going to say something here now that I wasn't sure about until I finished the book and read the author interview at the end, but that I think could have helped me enjoy the book more if I had realized it sooner: This book was inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird. I thought it was obvious throughout, but then I started thinking that maybe Clay was going to try to pass it off like it's nothing like Lee's novel, and that concept turned me off. I couldn't get over
...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Skunk Cunningham was a bright, curious young girl who was full of energy. She spent most of her free time playing Xbox with her brother Jed and dreaming of her beloved teacher Mr. Jefferies. One afternoon while playing, Skunk and Jed witness a fight between their neighbors. Bob Oswald a loud, widowed biker guy who enjoyed loud music, drugs and drinking ran across the square and beat Rick Buckley nearly to death.

After the incident and a demeaning investigation including a physical exam down at t
...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I have a feeling though that I'm going to rave about this book and other people will pick it up and say "it was ok."

In a novel with no chapters, Daniel Clay introduces us to Skunk Cunningham, an innocent, curious, loveable young girl who might remind you of Scout Finch from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. In fact, Clay actually acknowledge's the book in the end. Skunk (I know Seana, I know), witnesses her terrifying, bully of a neighbor, Bob Oswald attack her other 19-yea
...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it liked it
After the first few pages, I was turned off by how much Clay was trying to imitate To Kill a Mockingbird in such an obvious manner (i.e. solicitor Archie being the father of Jed and Skunk) but it turned out to be a lot more than that.

There were a couple of things that I thought could have been better. One was the way Clay developed Skunk's character. It's clear he was never an 11 year old girl. He made her thoughts seem way too elementary. Another thing that threw me off was the language in the
...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Broken is not a bad book. \it just seems to have aspirations beyond what it is -- or rather, what it's capable of being. It is narrated by a young girl, Skunk, as she lies in a coma and leads the reader through the chain of events that led her to this point. The problem for me is that this horrible chain of events is not inevitable -- there are many almost outlandish coincidences that conspire in the culmination of the novel, too many places where I can't believe that no one stepped in. The char ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Don't judge a book by its cover. The girl on the cover looks about six, the one in the book is eleven. I kind of liked the style of the woodcut image on the cover. But other than that, I should have been warned by girls legs and the title both suggesting something awful. I found the book awful. Not just awful because of the sadness of the story, but bad plot, badly written, full of characters that are poorly developed and altogether unlikeable. The only one who at any stage behaves like an adult ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Found this in Urban Outfitters several years ago and bought it to read on the ride home from vacation. I couldn't get into it then and the second time around hasn't been much different. I am not sure if it's Clay's writing style or the almost un-relatable characters. It's an easy read like most YA literature but it lacks something important (I can't put my finger on what it is yet). The allusions to Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird are obvious -- not much else to say about that aspect. Overall, I'd g ...more
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Definitely not for the faint of heart, not only because of the copious profanity and painful bully scenes, but also because of the heart wrenching finale. If you take To Kill a Mockingbird (the main character's name is Skunk, her brother is named Jed, her friend is Dillon, and then there is Broken) and set it in modern day South London, mix in a little Silence of the Lambs and a little Heavenly Bones, then you get a pretty good idea of what this novel reads like. It is certainly very unique and ...more
Apr 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book could not have been any worse, not quite sure why I finished it......
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I first picked up Broken because of the cover art (always a sucker) and because it was compared to Lullabies for Little Criminals, one of my all-time favourite books.

Thankfully, it all lived up to - and surpassed - the hype, catapulting Broken into one of my top-five favourite novels of all time.

From the first sentence through to the last, I was drawn into the lives of coma-bound Skunk and her family and neighbours. The world Daniel Clay created has all of my favourite
...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I bought this book secondhand. And although this book was very depressing, it was also really beautiful. I didn't think I was going to love this book since the Oswalds really annoyed the crap out of me, but halfway through the book I started to feel sad for all the characters in the book. They grew on me. That's why I'm giving this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐ stars. ...more
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have to say I enjoyed this book more than an average 3 star rating would allow and was impressed that "To Kill a Mockingbird" was author Daniel Clay's main inspiration for finishing this 'debut' novel (he'd written others that just weren't published).

What truly works is the third-person omniscient POV and then also getting snippets of young Skunk's POV as she floats in limbo between life and death while in a coma. The characters are well developed, even the ones you despise being the Oswald f
...more
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
If I could give a rating of 4.5 stars I would. I watched the movie just days before I read this book. I enjoyed the movie - which made me search out the book - filed in the basement of our local library. And of course, which it often is, the book was different to the movie and much much better.

This book has no chapters. This book jumps from character to character, which sounds as if it could be confusing. It wasn't. The jumps were seamless, even when they were on the same line of text.

Broken is
...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Skunk is 11 and in a coma. From her hospital bed she guides the reader through the events in her neighbourhood.

Across the street to Skunk, live the Buckleys, a mild mannered couple with their awkward son Rick. In the same square live the Oswalds, a family of foul-mouth bullies.

Saksia Oswald, out of a bet with her older sister, went for a drive with Rick Buckley, seduced him and then proceeded to humiliate him throughout the neighborhood. Later in the day, Saksia's younger sister was caught with
...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think it's fair to say that Broken breaks you. It's such a heady combination of brilliant writing and touching themes. There are so many things in the book to ponder upon. Butterfly effect, mental health, misplaced or misguided love, the terrible state of government services. Each incorporated so well into the book that it breaks you, a little at a time. The last twenty or so pages is when the author puts your emotions through the wringer. The book becomes suffocating. It frustrates you and yo ...more
Apr 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of those rare occasions where I preferred the film, however I saw that first so maybe I'm biased.
Not a single character is remotely likeable. Events get progressively worse and worse to the point of soap opera/crime drama proportions.
However it was the sections of first person narrative from Skunk that I struggled with most; it was hard to believe they were the words of an 11 year old girl.
...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Disgusting book, not enjoyable at all. I have had it with ugly stories. No more. While suffering through this, I read from Psalm 119: I will turn my eyes from worthless things... And I thought, this is a worthless thing.
It's based on To Kill a Mockingbird, but there's no comparison.
...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will get under your skin. It is strange, horrible (at times), hilarious, frightening, tough to read and utterly captivating. The pages are full of quirky, intriguing, recognisable, compelling characters brought to life brilliantly through individual voices, decisions and mannerisms.
You will laugh, gasp, feel frustrated and angry and if you aren't crying at the end then perhaps you too are broken!
A book that you will be thinking about when not reading and for a long time after
...more
Jan 20, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5
the thing that let it down was it’s lack of chapters?! i hate it when books don’t have chapters it annoys me beyond belief. my friend lent me this book purely because it’s set right near where i used to live, and i was pleasantly surprised! at first i didn’t think i would like it, couldn’t get past the name SKUNK if i’m honest, but then i really did get into it. oh, and i’m happy to see that i was made into a film which i’ll definitely watch!
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Daniel Clay is thirty-seven years old and married with no children. He lives in Hedge End, on the south coast of England.

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