Saturday, February 6, 2016

American Angst Punctuated by European Tapas - Unbroken - a novella by Michelle Argyle

Hello, commies!
Boy, do I have a treat for you. Today I am sharing a review of a novella by an angel-faced author Michelle Argyle, whose works have stimulated some of the darkest, most unsavory aspects of my soul. Unbroken is the last installment of her Breakway series, chronicling the panic attacks of an indecisive American woman who had spent a year of her life in the company of kidnappers. 
Fourteen years after her kidnapping, Naomi has moved on from her traumatic past. She has a new last name, a career she loves, and nobody to hold her down. When she lands her dream job managing a restaurant in Italy, she resolves not to think about what happened in that country with Jesse eleven years ago.
But Naomi’s past won’t let her go that easily.

One by one, her former kidnappers are being released from prison. When Naomi runs into Evelyn at a local market, her perfect life is turned upside down and curiosity leads her step by step back to Jesse. She’s looking for closure, but what she finds along the way changes everything, leaving her at one last crossroads with her former kidnappers.

My thoughts
I swallowed this novella in one gulp. I've been deriving sadistic pleasure out of the "Breakaway" series since the first installment. I am so glad I met and befriended the author, because otherwise I never, ever would've discovered her books. It's really easy for them to get lost in the shuffle with such neutral one-word individual titles and light covers that look like Midol ads.  The delightfully contrived plot and the characters you want to strangle leave you with a strange feeling of satisfaction and superiority.  Yes, this type of writing awakens the sadistic bully in me. I let out my steam by gloating over the self-imposed misfortunes of wimpy flake, and go back to the real world as a civil, marginally compassionate human being.

Naomi Jensen is back in all her whiny, indecisive, squeamish, juvenile, hand-wringing glory. In this final installment of the "Breakaway" saga there is a lot of talk about "becoming a new person".  But we all know that Naomi is the same sheltered weakling who wallows in self-pity, picks at her boo-boos and tries to gain ... uhm ... "closure".  She waddles into the fire, with her high-achieving Scandinavian goddess mommy by her side and her gang of cheerleading gang from the restaurant. There's also a great deal of talk about food.  Well, I imagine that eating any dish prepared under Naomi's supervision would give me indigestion. There's a lot of emotional baggage in every bite. This is such a biting caricature of American upper middle-class womanhood. Really makes me proud of my no-nonsense European upbringing. I eat girls like Naomi for breakfast.

Dear author, please don't stop putting out these stories about whiny American college girls. I will continue buying them and recommending them to my friends. Next installment? Naomi gets kidnapped by Syrian refugees and learns to cook Middle Eastern food in the comforts of a basement. 

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