That’s right. Your next bedtime buddy is waiting. Eyeing you up from across the room, luring you in. Promising to keep you up all night. Well, at least until the battery runs out.
Steady on… I’m talking about your Kindle, here! Specifically, I’m talking about something that should be on your Kindle, right now.
It’s called Never Not Broken.
Never Not Broken is a story about relationships, about taking risks, about finding talent and about losing yourself. It’s charming. And smart. And completely addictive.
Each time I’ve read it – and I’ve read it several times – I’ve laughed and cried out loud, oblivious to what people around me think of my sniffling snorts.
Full disclosure: The author of Never Not Broken is none other than my incredible sister, Nicola Sothern. So you might say that I’m biased. But honestly, just like the alopecia products I cover in this site, I only recommend something if I believe in it.
And I very, very much believe in this story.
Why? Well, it’s the kind of book that grabs you by your bones. Whose beautiful descriptions and haunting observations stay with you long after you’ve finished.
So if you’re looking for a book that moves you, that really speaks to you… well, call off the search party.
Ok, so we’ve all heard the story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy takes risks to win girl back, right? Just like we’re used to reading about strong family bonds, or precarious love triangles.
But for me, Never Not Broken doesn’t stick to the usual chick lit formula. It runs deeper than that. It’s smarter than that.
Sure, it has love triangles, best friend rivalry, a dashing leading man and a test for the female protagonist to overcome… but there’s so much more to it than that.
Without giving too much away, the story follows a talented wannabie songwriter called Sian Tierney – and how her fairly sheltered world suddenly becomes a whole lot more dramatic when she meets the hugely successful – yet deeply troubled – Donal Redmond. I won’t go into what happens next but shit’s about to get real!
Then we meet Mona Allard – the kind of girl that girls love to hate. You know the type. She’s beautiful, stylish, artistic and unassuming.
But with Mona, still waters most definitely run deep. And despite the cool confidence she shows on the surface, her internal storms and dark history threaten to erupt at any moment. Changing the lives of everyone around her – including Sian and Donal.
Lady Says: Think you know what it’s about? Think again. Because this story’s got enough twists and turns to keep you hooked – and surprised – right up until the last page.
What I love about Never Not Broken is that it has not one, but two strong female protagonists. In many other books that do this, you often end up rooting for one over the other. But not here. Both Sian and Mona are so relatable, in such different ways, that you can’t decide who you prefer. Who you want to “win”, so to speak.
They’re both talented. Both beautiful. Yet both fundamentally scarred in some way – so they come across as more “real” than many other heroines I’ve come across.
You see yourself in each of them. So you want to follow each of their stories, each of their journeys – perhaps discovering more about yourself as you do about them.
Which brings me to another thing I love about this book. It’s proof that smart chick lit does exist, or that we should cast off the label “chick lit” altogether. Because it’s really a “thinking woman’s book”… although of course both women and men do and will enjoy it!
When my sister brought it to certain publishers, their response was that they loved it – but they didn’t know where it would “fit”. They couldn’t put it into one of their little boxes. It was too deep, too dark for the candy floss stuff with pastel covers.
Of course, not all pastel covers contain cringeworthy content – like these works by Ms Austen. (Who was, after all the Chick Lit Queen of her day!)
Marion Keyes is my go-to woman when I need a good read and a big laugh. Alice Sebold keeps me immersed while making me weep. While Helen Fielding is nothing short of a genius for introducing us all to Bridget – and for making us all feel slightly better about ourselves in the process.
But it’s the other stuff I have a problem with. Those hugely successful authors who churn out one-dimensional characters, predictable plots, lazy dialogue and clichéd narratives.
I may say something controversial here but for me, Cecelia Ahern is one of these authors. (PS, I Love You? PS, You’re Awful. Give me a break.)
Again, I could be biased but the author of this book – dear sister that she is – writes with originality, depth and heart. The plot is cleverly crafted, the characters are believable and the descriptions are vivid. Plus, like I mentioned, it made me laugh and cry. Which any good piece of chick lit should do.
Unfortunately, because Never Not Broken doesn’t fit perfectly into this well-trodden genre, it has yet to take its rightful place beside the writers who do women’s fiction well.
Definitely not. Fortunately, Nicola did the smart thing and published it as an e-book instead. So we can all enjoy it!
It doesn’t need to squeeze into any one genre – the depth of its narrative and the beauty of its words speak for itself.
FYI: Nicola is also a poet and it shows here. Her original poems, cleverly interwoven throughout the story as song lyrics – the thing that binds Sian and Donal together – deserve more than a single read.
These “songs” are beautiful and haunting in their own right – but in fact the lyrical descriptions throughout the text have a way of making you stop still, in need of absorbing what you’ve just read.
Lady Says: I learned how to use the “highlight” tool on my Kindle just for this book. (And I used it a lot!) So many quotes that stuck in my head, so many vivid pictures that remain still. Again, I don’t want to give anything away by sharing any of them here – you’ll need to read it to see what I mean!
Even though this story makes you feel all light and giggly in some parts, in the next it can have you facing your darkest shadows. It isn’t afraid to deal with the less attractive subject matters of self-harm, addiction and depression. It doesn’t sugarcoat or glamorise these illnesses in any way. Which is what makes is not only a good read, but an important one.
Excellent question. Check it out here on Amazon – where you can take a sneaky peak at the first chapter before downloading the rest.
Turn your phone on silent, switch off the TV, make yourself comfortable and get ready for a story that will have you pondering the nature of relationships, the power of music and art, and the sheer beauty of words, long after you’ve finished.
Whether you want a beach book for your next holiday, or you need company for your daily commute, you can’t go wrong with Never Not Broken. It has the romance, the sex and the humour of a great chick lit book – but it also features the acute pain and tragedy of something much deeper.
It’s a tribute to music and art, to family and friendship – and most of all, to the beauty that constantly surrounds us, even when we can’t quite see it.
Am I biased? Maybe. But give it a go and I’m confident you’ll agree! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or review it on Amazon if you love it as much as I do!
If you like what I’m reading, maybe you’ll like what else I’m into:
1. Yoga – Read my review of a special retreat centre on Ireland’s west coast.
2. Meditation – Learn how it can help with hair loss and happiness!
3. Nutrition – Some handy dietary tips, whether you’ve got hair or not!
4. Travel – My thoughts on how travel can affect your health.
5. Silly Stuff – Like the bald celebrities I’ve got a crush on.