Broken – Travis Thrasher

Broken Travis Thrasher
Broken by Travis Thrasher
Published by FaithWords on May 25, 2010
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
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five-stars

Laila had it all--love, family, wealth, and faith. But when her faith crumbles, her world falls apart and Laila finds herself living an empty, dangerous life as a call girl in Chicago. When she is threatened, Laila shoots and kills a client in self-defense, sending herself into a spiral of guilt and emptiness. Six months later, she is trying to move on, but she's haunted by the past. She hasn't told anyone about the man she killed, and she's still estranged from her family. When she is approached by a stranger who says he knows what she did, Laila has no choice but to run. But the stranger stays close behind, and Laila begins having visions of the man she killed. Little does she know she's being hounded by something not of this world, something that knows her deepest, darkest secret. Scared and wandering, will Laila regain her trust in God to protect her from these demons? Or will her plea for salvation come too late?

You’ll recall the Biblical story of Hosea: called by God to marry a prostitute in order to demonstrate the love God has for His people and to portray in vivid detail how His people are sinning against Him. The picture we get from this comes from God’s perspective. But what of the woman? What of this soul so broken that she finds it hard to love herself let alone another?

In a stunning tale of mystery, intrigue, and danger, Broken takes us on a heart-rending journey in the life of Laila, a girl whose broken past is beginning to catch up with her. Six months earlier, she’d killed a man. In her defense, it was to protect herself, but she’s still haunted by the guilt. Nobody knows. Nobody. Or so she thinks. When she’s discovered by a stranger who knows about her crime, and wants to make her pay, she’s forced to run. But running seems to do little good. Her only chance is to accept the help of the One who can bind up the broken and make her whole again.

Each time I read a novel by Travis Thrasher, I close the cover and tell myself that was his best. But I find it hard to imagine that Thrasher is going to be able to surpass Broken easily. As the pieces fell together in the closing chapters, as the mystery became clear, as the tension heightened, as the story climaxed, as the theme hit home and began to wash over my soul…the story literally drove me to tears. And when I did close the cover, it left me in quiet and prayerful contemplation.

The writing is superb. It takes a few chapters to get used to Thrasher’s use of the present tense, but it’s a technique that throws the reader into the moment more than ever. Flashbacks in the form of diary entries serve to paint the background story for this broken soul. The action is intense, the pace breakneck, the aura of mystery palpable, the sense of the supernatural mysterious. But it all serves only to point to Thrasher’s theme: No matter how broken, there is hope for redemption.

Broken? That’s a place I’ve been, a place I am. Not the situation that Laila finds herself in, but I get Thrasher’s message. It’s his Hosea story. It’s his story of all of us and how utterly broken we are and how we need the hope that can only be found in Jesus. Of how, even though we are the cause of our brokenness, He takes His broken heart and heals us with His broken body. In the vein of Isolation and Ghostwriter, Thrasher gives us Broken, one of his best stories to date.

Mini Q&A with Travis

Josh: The dedication in Broken is for “anyone who has been there.” Where exactly is there, and what was the message you were writing about in this novel?

Travis: It’s for anyone who’s been broken. I hate to say that I sat down to write a “message.” That sounds a bit scary to me. I wanted to write about a  despondent woman and her journey toward hope. I guess you can say one message is that none of us are beyond hope–this obviously is a message throughout many of my books. But this one in particular really tries to dive into the theme of a broken soul.

Josh: You also used an interesting writing technique in Broken where you used no internal dialogue, no seeing into character’s thoughts. Why avoid that?

Travis: Novelists tend to develop habits with their writing, relying on a style that works for them. It’s easy to sometimes rely on your style too much. I love diving into characters’ thoughts and sharing their internal dialogue, many times with italics. In Broken, I decided to simply tell the story without any backstory or internal dialogue. I wanted it quick-moving, sparse, direct, blunt. It was an interesting process. I feel it works for this story though I still like diving into characters’ messy minds.

five-stars

About Travis Thrasher

Travis Thrasher

Bestselling author Travis Thrasher has written over 50 books, spanning genres in fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. His inspirational stories have included collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, athletes, celebrities and pastors.

With the childhood goal of pursuing a writing career starting in third grade, Thrasher worked for 13 years at Tyndale House Publishers after graduating college. His experience working with as Author Relations Manager allowed him to understand the writing life as well as training him to work with a variety of personalities. This experience has proven to be invaluable with varied writing projects in the decade he’s been a full-time writer.

His novels are as diverse as the people he’s worked with, ranging from love stories to supernatural thrillers. Publishers Weekly said “Sara and Ethan are two of the most real and sensitive lovers to grace the genre” when reviewing his first novel, The Promise Remains. They also stated “Thrasher demonstrates a considerable talent for the horror genre” in a review for Isolation years later. His readers have enjoyed the unpredictability of his novels, whether it’s due to a unique style such as second person or a twist they never saw coming.

Thrasher’s storytelling ability has also allowed him to work with others on their books, from musicians like country musician Scotty McCreery and Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain to the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty. He has also penned novels based on songs such as Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne and novelizations for films including Do You Believe? and God’s Not Dead 2. Upcoming projects continue to expand his talents, with projects including The Black Auxiliary about the lives of the 17 American black athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and Baby Don’t Hurt Me about comedian Chris Kattan’s life and time on Saturday Night Live.

Travis lives with his wife and three young daughters in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

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