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Broken / Daniel Clay.

By: Clay, Daniel.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : HarperPress, 2008Description: 305 pages ; 21 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780007270132 (pbk.); 0007270135 (pbk.); 9780007270149.Subject(s): Coma -- Patients -- Fiction | Coma -- Patients -- Family relationships -- Fiction | Neighbours -- Fiction | Bullying -- Fiction | Interpersonal relations -- Fiction | Coma patients -- Fiction | Families -- Fiction | Bullies and bullying -- Fiction | Coma Patients Family relationships Fiction | Bullying FictionGenre/Form: Domestic fiction. | General fiction.DDC classification: 823.92 Subject: 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. As the reader inches closer to the mystery surrounding the coma, Skunk's innocence becomes a beacon which enlightens and illuminates a world as comic as it is tragic.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

You thought your neighbours were bad? Wait till you meet the Oswalds. They're crass, cruel and seemingly untouchable. Until, that is, they go one step too far - and the results begin to tear an entire community apart.

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. As the reader inches closer to the mystery surrounding the coma, Skunk's innocence becomes a beacon which enlightens and illuminates a world as comic as it is tragic.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Broken A Novel Chapter One 'Skunk, Skunk. Wake up, beautiful darling.' Archie, my father, holds both my hands as he says this. I sense his words rather than hear them: 'Skunk, Skunk. Wake up, beautiful darling.' I also sense his life now. It seeps through his palms into my palms. It deadens the blood in my veins. My heartbeat slows. I shudder. Poor old Archie. This is the way that his life is. I see it. I feel it. I know it. Tonight, from midnight through to two in the morning, he will sit all alone in the front room and watch a video of the day I was born. Almost twelve years ago now. There I am. You can see me. A wrinkled pink sack of flesh that does little but lie on its back with tubes feeding into its nostrils. Not a lot different to now then. Here I lie, on my back, with tubes feeding into my nostrils. But tonight I will be a newborn. All that hope. All that promise. Poor old Archie. He'll sit all alone and he'll watch me. He'll drink and he'll think, how did it happen? How did it end up like this? Then he'll go to the bed that he shares with Cerys and listen to her crying. He'll cry a little himself. Finally, he will sleep and dream that the harsh ringing sound by his bedside is the Royal Hampshire County Hospital phoning to say I am dead. He will sit up, gasping, but it won't be his phone that is ringing, it will be his alarm clock, and it will be time to get up, go to work. In work, Archie will sit at his desk and recoil every time the phone rings, then he'll rush here to see me. 'Skunk, Skunk. Wake up, beautiful darling. Don't you leave me. Don't you dare.' All of this will happen. I know for sure it will happen. I know everything now. Especially about Broken Buckley. Poor old Broken Buckley. Hunched over his mother's corpse. Hands pressed to his temples. How and why? Oh how and why? His story started with Saskia Oswald: Broken loved Saskia Oswald. Had. Once. Loved. Saskia. Oswald. But Saskia Oswald never loved him. She just loved his car. She said, Hey, soldier, fancy taking me for a ride? Did he? Oh, did he. Poor old Broken Buckley. He was nineteen years old and a virgin, the sort of guy who spits when he speaks, just little flecks of saliva that hang in the air and distract you from whatever he's saying. Saskia Oswald ate him for breakfast - ate him up and then spat him out. Not enough for her though. She had to tell everyone about it, and that's when it started for him. 'Skunk, please, God, blink, just blink if you can hear me . . . we're here, darling. We're all here beside you.' It didn't finish there though. It never does with the likes of the Oswalds. They're the family in one of the Housing Association properties on the opposite side of the square. Single parent. Lots of children. Music all hours of the night. Trash bags in the front garden. Portsmouth FC flags hanging from the windows. Maori-style tattoos on overdeveloped biceps. This is Bob Oswald. The father. Bob Oswald. The father. The first time I saw him hitting someone, I was coming up ten years old. It was summer, hot, and Rick Buckley was washing the car his father had bought him as a present for passing his driving test. Skunk Cunningham was skipping on the tarmac drive that had once been their front garden. Other than Skunk and Rick, Drummond Square was empty. The attack happened out of nowhere. Skunk didn't hear anyone speaking. She didn't hear anyone shouting. The first thing she heard was the scream: it was high-pitched, like a horse, and before she knew what was happening, Bob Oswald had Rick Buckley in a headlock and was twisting him sideways, like wrestling a bull. The two of them staggered out of the Buckleys' front garden and into the otherwise empty square. Rick Buckley shouted, Stop it, I haven't done anything wrong. Bob Oswald hit him. Not a punch, but a blow with the point of his elbow. It landed in the small of Rick's back. Rick collapsed to his knees. Skunk stood frozen, hot in the sun, her small hands held up to her mouth. Bob Oswald hit Rick again, and Rick fell flat on his face. Bob Oswald kicked him in the gut then the side of the head. Skunk recoiled at the sound of the thud. Then Bob Oswald took hold of Rick's hair and lifted his head up. He made a lot of noise dredging his throat clean, then spat into Rick's face. After that, he studied Rick closely for a moment, then pushed him back down to the ground. Rick lay very still. He was silent. Bob Oswald stepped over him and made his way back into his house. Once inside, the throb of music that had played like a soundtrack in the background rose to a deafening thud. As far as I can remember, after Bob Oswald left him, Rick stayed on his face in the road. He was sobbing. I wanted to go and get someone to help him, but I was too frightened to move. I stood with my hands raised to my mouth and my heart beating fast in my chest. Maybe as much as half an hour later, Mr Buckley returned from the funeral parlour he managed and helped his son into their house. I sat down on the kerbside and stared at the blood on the tarmac. I don't remember if I cried. I don't remember if I was sick. If I ever asked Jed or Archie about it, I don't remember what they said. In fact, before I fell into this coma, the only thing I really remember about seeing what Bob Oswald did to Rick Buckley was trying to forget it had happened. Even though this is how it all started, I pushed the whole thing from my mind. Broken A Novel . Copyright © by Daniel Clay. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Broken: A Novel by Daniel Clay All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

English writer Clay's disjointed debut traces the story of Skunk Cunningham, an 11-year-old girl living with her father, brother and au pair. One day, Skunk watches as local thug Bob Oswald beats teenager Rick Buckley. Bob, whose five daughters go to school with Skunk, is one-dimensionally horrible and has no qualms about bullying kids or teachers as he protects his daughters. Skunk and crew, meanwhile, spend their days in school steering clear of the Oswald girls, who are as psycho as their father. Between bouts of violence, things in the British suburb are quiet, and Rick becomes a virtual prisoner in his home, only to later emerge as a "broken" and violent beast. The novel is nearly plotless and overflows with generalized nastiness, and the grim proceedings, while initially discomforting, don't do anything except pile on and become banal. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Something terrible has happened in Hedge End, a small town in the south of England. Readers learn this fact immediately, when they discover that the novel's occasional narrator, an 11-year-old girl named Skunk, is in a coma. Much of what follows is the story of how and why she got there, beginning with the very public humiliation and beating of her teenage neighbor, Rick Buckley, whom she thereafter thinks of as Broken Buckley (hence the title). Rick's plight is the work of the awful Oswalds, a sociopathic family of losers and layabouts who are the bane of the neighborhood. Initially, Broken reads like a wryly humorous satire of modern English mores, but it quickly devolves into something darker much darker. It becomes a horrifying meditation on the death of innocence, the end of love, and the futility of existence. The story is beautifully written, but the plot's endless parade of atrocities makes for very difficult though addictive (What awful thing will happen next?) reading. An infusion of hope near the end will redeem the experience for some readers; for others, it will be a case of too little, too late.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2008 Booklist