Book Review: The Break – Deb Fitzpatrick

Five stars

Words: Carrie Taylor – Graphic Design: Rhiannon Merrifield & Laurence Meyer – Photography: http://www.lifeofpix.com/gallery-items/beach/

The first drafts of The Break emerged in the mid 90s, and were painstakingly refined until 2014 by Western Australian author Deb Fitzpatrick to evolve into one of the most touching novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.In her first novel for older readers, Fitzpatrick weaves together the stories of the Crowes, a Margaret River farming family, and young couple made of strong-willed Rosie and charismatic partner Cray. Fed up with the monotony of their lives in Perth, they chose to escape to the seaside serenity of Margaret River, blissfully unaware that the move will change their lives in a way they could have never foreseen.

The Crowes are a strained family, made of Liza and Ferg, who are struggling to sustain their marriage, and their son, Sam. Ferg tries to cope with the family’s conflicts whilst Sam never fails to provide a plethora of new problems. In addition to that, the Crowes must face the push for radical developments in their hometown, and this upheaval forces their paths to connect with Rosie and Cray.

Life’s ongoing adversities are explored throughout the story, with the tense relationship between Ferg’s troubled brother and his family exposing the havoc that addiction can wreak on a family. The novel’s tragic climax forces the family to overcome these issues in order to unify in the wake of an ever greater tragedy, emphasising the importance of familial support and love.

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In her compelling novel, Fitzpatrick captures to perfection the small beauties and wonders of everyday life. She inspires us to marvel over the surroundings that we would usually overlook. The settings are painted in such a way that one cannot help but be filled with a simultaneous sense of solace and awe. Acts as ordinary as tending to an orchard, surfing, switching on a computer, sitting out on a balcony and strolling down a beach are given vibrant life and significance. Notably through the old-souled and incredibly perceptive young Sam Crowe that you will instantly become attached to.

However, the charming environment of Margaret River is not everyone’s paradise. While, in some ways, Rosie and Cray are more at home in Margaret River than they ever were in Perth, their story seems to challenge the common preconceived idea that moving to a quieter life, within a close-knit community and in touch with the nature, will bring instant happiness. Rosie’s longing for a different life but her past is never far from her mind, perhaps reinforcing the notion that the grass looks always greener on the other side. In all, the author suggests that complete and utter satisfaction is unachievable, but one can do the best with what one is given.

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The very small web of significant characters allows them to be developed in a way so deeply that each and every one of their action will affect you in some way. Sam’s wise comments and innocent optimism will have you smiling through affectionate tears and the challenges he faces will have you ready to leap into his world to protect him from anything and everything. Rosie’s dedication and righteousness will inspire you to go about your own life in such a way. You won’t ever walk across another beach without being filled with the joy and appreciation that Cray’s free spirit and love of the ocean instilled in you.

The Break is a one of those rare finds whose poignance somehow manages to engulf readers with a sense of nostalgia, transporting them to a place of compassion and bitterness, forgiveness and salvation, hope and disappointment, and everything in between. The Break is the perfect book to lose yourself in if you desire an easy read that still manages to be rich with complex and admirable characters, vivid imagery, powerful language, and strong underlying ideologies.

Buy the book or eBook here! https://www.fremantlepress.com.au/books/1413

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