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Break in Case of Emergency

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Set in a small town in the 1990s, this is the story of a girl on the edge—of a breakdown, of family secrets, of learning who she really is.

Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. Convinced that
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Inkyard Press (first published September 17th 2019)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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May 05, 2019 marked it as not-released-tbr  ·  review of another edition
"Dads can be such a drag"

true dat
Samantha (WLABB)
It had been five years since her mother died by suicide, and Toby was still dealing with deep seated feelings of abandonment. After a disastrous introduction to her estranged father and a failed suicide attempt, Toby was forced to deal with the aftermath.

My emotions! My emotions! I have to admit, this book was a bit heavier than I had originally anticipated, and I shed many, MANY tears. It was a story about a young women, whose early life was spent with a bipolar mother, who didn't always take
Madeline Nixon
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book. What a beautiful book. I legitimately just want to write that over and over again as my review. This was an incredibly well done book on suicide, mental illness, acceptance, family ties, love, and reconciliation. From the prose, to artistic choices in chapter breaks, to Toby’s story - everything was beautiful.

(Thank you to HarperCollins for the ARC. All opinions are mine.)
Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion. This review originally appeared on Pop of Geek

I’m going to break a few rules for this review. I’ve contemplated how to review Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis as objectively as possible, but I’ve concluded that whatever I would come up with by doing so would just be dishonest.

Break in Case of Emergency is possibly the closest I’ve seen my own life
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to edelweiss and the publishers for sending me a E arc of this book in exchange for review!!!

TW: suicide, Attempted suicide, neglect, mental health

Where to start with book because Wow! This book is such an emotional and hard hitting contemporary of a girl called Toby who feels like she doesn’t belong in this world anymore and wants to end things and to end the pain of what’s she felt and been through in the past few years following the own suicide of her mother and her father
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I thought this was a YA book about a teenager who found out that her estranged father was a drag queen. Turns out that that is just a small portion of the book. The narrator, Toby, is a teenage girl whose mother died by suicide. Toby lives with her grandparents on a dairy farm. (I really honed in on the dairy farm details. Brian Francis did his research).

Toby is suicidally depressed, and wants to die. The book is actually about mental health and suicidal ideation, but is also about love, and
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A YA book that I believe will be appreciated most by teens. Although it explores mental illness, suicide, identity and family dysfunction, it does so with humour, humanity,and hope. I will recommend it to my high school readers who are looking for a read with mature themes and subject matter without a prevailing sense of darkness. The humor tempers the tragedies and keeps the story entertaining. An enjoyable read.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC. I’ll post a review upon publication.

Updated to include the review on 2/4/20:

3.5 stars

I appreciate that this novel handles the issue of suicide without romanticizing it (as various other contemporary YA novels do).

The main character experiences a great deal of family trauma: a mother who struggles with mental illness and completes suicide, a father who is absent, grandparents who appear to love her very much but are not excellent at
YA isn't really my bag, but this was well-written and engaging. Probably good for 15+, but trigger-warnings galore. I was disappointed not to have more of the father character (who provided levity and depth).
Colline Vinay Kook-Chun
I do admit to beginning this novel with high expectations as it had been avidly promoted. The story also interested me as it dealt with possible mental health issues that so many teens face at this time of their lives. I think it is good that there is literature like this out there to help teen readers realise that they are not alone when experiencing suicidal thoughts or even feelings of worthlessness.

The story is written from the point of view of a teenage girl who does feel worthless; and who
Girl Well Read
A special thank you to HarperCollins Canada, #HCCFrenzy, and the author, Brian Francis for a finished copy of the book.

Life hasn't always been easy for 15-year-old Toby. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father is not in the picture having abandoned her mother when she was pregnant.

When the book opens, Toby is living on a dairy farm with her grandparents. Struggling to find any light in her world, she’s making plans to follow a similar route as her mother. But her plans are
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I was disappointed by how this book ended up going, as I feel like the basic themes had a lot more promise than the true course of the plot and character dynamics and resolutions.

The mental health aspect was a huge theme that I think Francis explored pretty well throughout the novel, both in the MC and her mother's struggles with continuing with their lives, and it was really interesting to see how the excuses the MC kept making helped her better understand what happened with her mother so many
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Let me be your lighthouse.' ...more
Heather Pearson
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, canadian
Glad that I was able to meet the author before reading his book.
Brianna Benton
This YA novel is a tear jerker. It was a quick read but it deals with important topics of conversations of mental health, LBBTQ+, friendship, and conformity.
Ashton Elliot
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for a review. Thanks!

I honestly hate that I gave this book 3.5 stars. It definitely deserves a 4, but I’m personally giving it a 3.5 because I don’t quite think this book was my style, y’know? So, personally: 3.5 stars. Review wise: 4.

What I liked:

This book was SUCH a quick read for me! It took me maybe... 3 hours between bussing to work and reading during my breaks? I love that in a book and it worked quite well for this one. The
Ashton Elliot
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.

I got an ARC of this book.

Drag queen dads? I'm in.Except the dad isn't even in the story for the first third. He isn't on page much after that either.

The book itself wasn't formatted well. I couldn't tell when scenes would change. The MC would be talking to her grandma in the kitchen and then there would be a reference to the park and I realized the scene had changed and it was a totally different character. There were no page breaks or those fancy
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Break in Case of Emergency
by Brian Francis
Pub Date: 04 Feb 2020
Read courtesy of

First, I don't get the title; although, I get what the author wanted me to get from the title. It just didn't work. Even the addition of Trisha's egg gift to Toby didn't make the title any more relevant. I almost feel like the title is the opposite of what the author intended.

Rural, conservative Canada... and a homophobic town. That's the setting. It was pretty one dimensional. I couldn't get past the
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Huge Thank You to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!


This book is a beautiful surprise. Break in Case of Emergency tells the tale of Toby Goodman, a girl who lives with her grandparents on their diary farm. Toby feels like her life is meaningless, especially after the loss of her mother and the disappearance of her father. Constantly contemplating suicide, Toby considers ending her life, until one day her father returns to her, though not what he seems.

I loved this book. Toby is such
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It isn't Fruit

And you're thinking, Well of course not, and it isn't fair to judge this book by that one. And you may be right. Except you aren't.

Fruit is such a delightful book, and I thought that Francis would again deliver on the wit and slyness of his first book. Nope. He's trying something different here, and that is a book directed to a very limited audience. And even then --

The book is certainly serious in dealing with the ramifications of parental suicide and mental health issues. I'm
Michelle Huber
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karissa Fast
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-teen
Incredible. The emotions of the main character, Toby, stuck with me so strongly that hours after putting the book down I'd still be thinking about her.

Toby is a young teen who has gone through a lot. She discovered her mom's death by suicide as a child. She's never met her father, on account of his moving to Europe before she was born. She lives on a cattle farm with her grandparents. She believes her best friend only tolerates her out of pity. And she is planning to kill herself.

Out of nowhere,
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I always go into books thinking they are going to be a fun, light read, especially when the synopsis makes it pretty clear that it is going to be anything but light and fun. However, here we are again. Despite the many tears, I am so thankful I picked up Break in Case of Emergency not expecting what I was given. Even with the heaviness of both topics and the atmosphere Brian Francis creates, there is still the sense of hope even in the face of all the messiness that comes with ...more
Wow. This book left a mark. About how the stories we tell ourselves can be different from what other people see. About how mental illness is nuanced and can blind you to the truth. What really came across in this book was that even though Toby knows what it’s like to live with depression herself, she told herself that her mom must not have loved her enough since she died by suicide and likely knew it would be her daughter who would find her. She assumed that her best friend was only staying by ...more
Lindsay Montague
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Suicide, depression, mental illness, parental abandonment

Despite it being a unique and interesting story idea, this was pretty average to me. This was another instances where an author tries to put too many plot lines into one story. The depression and suicide talk really had nothing to do with her long lost gay dad. Even after her father comes into her life, she still goes through with her plan—his presence doesn't stop her. I also think it all was wrapped up pretty
Molly - Baltimore Bibliophile
Break in Case of Emergency is a contemporary tale of 15 year old Toby who is dealing with her mother's suicide 5 years ago. She is struggling, especially when her father comes into the picture for the first time since her conception. Her father is... interesting... and isn't what she was expecting - or wanting.

I did not love the LGBTQIA representation or mental health representation. I understand it was done with an explicit purpose, but I don't feel like they were represented properly. I feel
Nikki Stafford
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I had the distinct pleasure and honour of acquiring and editing Brian Francis's first book, Fruit, and I have adored every word he's written since. This book is his foray into YA literature, and it should be assigned on every high school reading list. It copes with suicide, and how it affects those left behind. But then it moves into the mind of a suicidal person, and shows us a perspective we don't usually see, blending both—the minds of the victim ...more
Kelsey Hlavaty (readingwithkelsey)
I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book was such a quick read - I read it all in one day and I have not done that in such a long time. You are dropped right into the middle of the main character, Toby's, life. I was really into the book at the beginning, especially through the novels discussion on mental health. But the main part of the novel's plot, Toby's father,
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book.

Tory's life is screwed up. Her mom committed suicide when she was 10, and her dad has never been in the picture. she lives on her grandparent's dairy farm, and just broke up with her sort of boyfriend...her best friend's brother. But she has an escape plan...

This book was hard to read, because the depiction of depression and hopelessness is so accurate. As someone who has felt like Tory feels throughout this book, I
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Brian Francis’s most recent novel, Break in Case of Emergency, was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards. Apple Books called it a “knockout” and The Globe and Mail said it “beautifully explores issues around mental health and suicide.”

His previous novel, Natural Order, was selected by the Toronto Star, Kobo and Georgia Straight as a Best Book of 2011.

His first novel, Fruit,