Every parent hopes the children they bear and raise into adulthood will live long, happy lives. But that isn’t always the case, as Kathleen and Curtis Kaufman discover in The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard. Daniel is the perfect son; an accomplished musician, he has a wonderful future to look forward to, until his life is tragically cut short in an automobile accident. Daniel’s untimely death leaves his parents and younger sister to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
Curtis and Kathleen’s marriage falls apart, and Olivia lives in constant fear of everything, lost in the shadow of the memory of her flawless brother. When the reckless driver of the car that killed Daniel is released from prison, Curtis decides to take matters into his own hands, dragging his troubled daughter along for the ride.
The Fragile World will be an appealing read for anyone who has ever gotten lost in the pages of a Jodi Picoult novel. Using a similar structure to Picoult, DeBoard alternates between the first person narratives of her characters. Sadly, the voices weren’t as distinct as I felt they should have been, and there were plenty of times I paused to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see whose head I was in if it wasn’t obvious.
I remember the exact moment that the book began to really go downhill for me: page 92, when Curtis begins to put into motion his plan for revenge. I stuck it through the remaining three hundred pages, anxious to see what would become of this broken family. I had more sympathy for Olivia, whose parents seemed to overlook her due to their grief. Despite the counseling the family went through, it wasn’t enough to help them move on with their lives. Curtis came across as selfish, and the choices that he made destroyed his family even further.
The voice I wanted to hear from the most was Kathleen, but the author chose not to give her a narrative. At the end of the novel, I especially wanted to know what drove her to make a game-changing choice. I am forced to speculate, because the only sense I gained of her character was through the perspectives of Olivia and Curtis.
The Fragile World sadly did not live up to my expectations, and it’s a book I would hesitantly recommend to fellow readers, but only if I know their tastes well enough to suggest it.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.