I was privileged enough to read the novel Aaron by J.P. Barnaby a few months ago and was more than excited to hear this audiobook of the YA adaptation. Kudos to Jamie Mayfield for a gorgeous version of one of my favorite titles.
Title: A Broken Kind of Life
Author: Jamie Mayfield
Narrator: Tristan Wright
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Story Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Aaron Downing is broken, barely clinging to the hope that one day, he will be normal again. His life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear, but he perseveres and starts college, determined to move on.
Then Aaron gets assigned to work with Spencer Thomas for his programming project. Aaron doesn’t want Spencer to think he’s a freak, but as he gets to know his new deaf friend, he figures out he doesn’t need to be “normal”. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough to find his footing again.
Or so Aaron thinks until his parents begin talking about institutionalizing him to give his brothers a more stable life. He searches desperately to find a way to cope or even to fake normalcy. But his new shrink’s instability makes conquering his demons that much more difficult, and his attraction to Spencer threatens to send Aaron spinning out of control.
Adapted as a YA edition of the novel Aaron by J.P. Barnaby.
One hundred percent of the author’s royalties are being donated to help homeless LGBT kids find safe shelter.
My View – Story:
Aaron Downing is a victim, a victim of a brutal and horrific event and of his nightmarish existence ever since. Barely hanging on and fearing his parents will send him away for treatment, he braves venturing back into a world in which he will never again fit as an attempt to be “normal.” There he meets Spencer Thomas when the two of them are assigned as partners in their college computer class, and a tentative friendship begins to blossom. However, the nightmares, flashbacks, and fear are ever-present, threatening the new relationship and shattering Aaron’s dreams of ever recovering from the violation of his past.
This is the incredibly touching and high-impact story of two young men and their daily struggles to overcome life’s most difficult obstacles. Aaron’s voice is the main focus here as his terrifying existence is brought to the page in vivid, heartbreaking detail. Initially, the reader is swept up into his world of nightmares, depression, and self-loathing, experiencing the darkness of his flashbacks from the trauma he suffered two years prior. Aaron’s lack of hope and his family’s helplessness ring with tragic authenticity as they all struggle to maintain a semblance of stability in a household torn apart by an act of violence. Spencer, born deaf, also has his point of view and brings attention to the difficulties many young people with disabilities face as he attempts to navigate relationships and make a life for himself. His tender heart and kind ways speak volumes as he reaches out to Aaron and tries to form a stronger bond. Their interactions with one another are tender and moving as they wade carefully through the difficult waters of their new friendship, their dialogue and reactions feeling authentic and drawing the reader into each of their separate pasts in order to experience the pain they have endured. These two main characters are beautifully wrought, and their growth within and outside of their relationship is poignant and heart-warming.
I must also speak about the secondary characters with which Jamie Mayfield graces this story. It is refreshing to see supportive, loving parents who, though flawed, work hard to be the best they can be for their children. They may struggle with their own demons and self-doubts, as do all parents, but their true motives and love for their families are obvious and well defined here. I like that.
A Broken Kind of Life masterfully portrays two young men each standing on a precipice: one on the edge hopelessness, and the other, of loneliness. With its intense emotion and satisfying HFN, it grabs the reader and maintains its grip throughout the course of the entire story. I caution that though it is an exceptionally well-done YA adaptation, it does include themes of a violent and sexual nature. As such, more mature young adults may best appreciate it. That being said, I highly recommend this audiobook and place at the top of my list as one of my favorite YA titles.
Additional note: 100% of the royalties from this title are donated to assist LGBT homeless youth.
My View – Narration:
Tristan Wright does an excellent job with this title, bringing a compassionate, realistic voice to each of the characters and sincerity to the reading of the story. The only issues I had were the occasional lack of pause between scene changes, character point of view, or chapter transitions. Additionally, I wish the foreword by Cody Kennedy were included in this audiobook, as it is a powerful introduction to the print version. Overall, however, Mr. Wright provides a beautiful, emotionally charged narration for A Broken Kind of Life, and I would gladly listen to more of his work in the future.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the audiobook of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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