ARC REVIEW: The Broken Pane by Charlie Roy

Title: The Broken Pane by Charlie Roy
Pages: 374
Published by: Leamington Books
Publication date: 1st October 2021
Genre: Realistic fiction
Format: Paperback
WaterstonesBook Depository


Finding yourself in the pieces of memory. The idea of a family is one that always sticks together, but that is hardly true in practice. 

The Broken Pane is about loss and family when families are broken. Finding yourself in the pieces of memory. About a young woman and her search for answers. 

In her early twenties, Tam rushes to her childhood flat only to be confronted by a tragic discovery. Anchored by the weight of family lore, she struggles to come to terms with her loss. As her life spirals, she sets off to find the one person who may hold the answers: her mother.

Tam’s travels take her far from a home which was more broken than she had ever realised.

Walking the line between reliable memory and unreliable narrator, Charlie Roy’s debut novel invites you to consider whether you are shaped by your past ― or if you shape your past yourself?

My review:

A massive thank you to Leamington Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

The Broken Pane is a raw and emotional story that follows Tam as she struggles to come to terms with her brother’s suicide. It tackles troubling issues including abandonment, alcohol addiction, emotional and physical abuse, and self-harm.

After suffering through a traumatic childhood and coming out the other side, Tam thought her and Nicky could face anything. But when he suddenly leaves her, she’s swallowed by grief and decides to revisit her childhood memories to understand why he committed suicide. It is a thought-provoking read as it explores how we choose to remember certain events and whether we alter something traumatic so that it becomes a happier memory. 

Tam and Nicky’s childhood was devastating to read about. Abandoned by their mother at a young age and raised by an alcoholic and abusive father, it was hard getting through some chapters. Despite being a child herself, Tam raises her younger brother alone and protects him from their father. As a way to cope with the abuse and trauma, she cooks and obsessively cleans the house. She can only watch on as her father drinks himself to death and her younger brother’s behaviour becomes more violent with every passing year. It was also heartbreaking to find out that Tam blames herself for their mother leaving and her father’s alcoholism. It was hard seeing her put that blame on herself and having to live through such a traumatic time for so long. I couldn’t help but feel that Tam and her brother were robbed of their childhood and that so many people turned a blind eye to what was happening. 

The story flips back and forth between different timelines as Tam examines certain memories from her childhood and comes to the realisation that she may have altered some of them. Tam goes on a journey of self-discovery before deciding that she has to confront the past rather than run away from it. To do that she has to track down her mother and find out why she left her two children alone with their abusive father. It plays on the unreliable narrator as Tam comes to the realisation that the happy moments she has clung to were actually far more bleak and that her family was broken long before her mother left. 

This was a hard story to tackle, but I’m glad I read it. Despite all the traumatic experiences Tam goes through, she still manages to pick herself back up and I really admired her for that. I thought it was a powerful story about rediscovering yourself after a traumatic event and I felt inspired by Tam’s strength throughout. I am looking forward to reading more of Charlie Roy’s books. 

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