From the back cover:
Seventeen-year-old Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everybody knows that broken bones grow back stronger that they were before. And Jonah wants to be stronger - needs to be stronger - because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is Jonah's only way to cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders.
When Jonah's self-destructive spiral accelerates and he hits rock bottom, will he find true strength or surrender to his breaking point?
I will admit that it can be hard to read about Jonah breaking his bones. But if you can get past the cringing, you will be in for a treat. Moskowitz does a great job delving into Jonah's issues and helping the reader connect with her main character. The relationships are complex and unique, from the caretaker role Jonah plays with his brother Jesse, to the uncertainty he has with not-girlfriend Charlotte. His issues are real and, in the end, you can't help but hope he gets better. Booklist gives BREAK a starred review.
I was able to ask a few questions of BREAK'S author and get some feedback on the feeling of seeing your first novel on the shelf, life philosophies, and favorite ice cream flavors.
1) Hannah, your debut novel, BREAK officially comes out on August 25th. But you’ve already seen (pictures of) copies of it at the bookstore. How does it feel to see your baby on the shelf?
Fantastic. It'll be so much better when I see it with my own eyes, though. I took one of my comp copies to Borders and gave it a few second on the shelf--that felt awesome. Seeing the pictures really isn't the same as seeing it myself. It's so funny, though; I used to sit in math class and draw pictures of bookshelves with all my books on them. So it's pretty crazy to think that one of them, at least, is on an actual shelf.
2) You also received a starred review from Booklist. What were you thinking when that review came in?
I seriously thought it was a joke. It was the day I got back from England, and I was a jet-lagged mess, and I logged onto my computer and there was an email from my editor. She was so excited, and I was just in shock. I honestly could not believe it. I always figured big reviewers would sort of laugh at Break--I mean, it's kind of a silly little book. So getting recognition from something like Booklist was insane.
3) BREAK takes some guts to get through. Your reader has to connect with a character who is breaking his bones – on purpose. Where did you come up with the idea of a bone-breaking main character?
It just fell into my head. I'm sorry, I know that's a terrible story. I wanted to take an outrageous premise and make it believable. And then the idea of a boy who wants to break all his bones sort of smacked me across the face. So I wanted to make something unbelievable believable, and, yeah, I wanted to satire some of the self-injury books already out there.
4) Once the reader gets past the shuddering (hey, it was hard reading about breaking bones for me *grin*), they are rewarded with some great insight and honesty from Jonah, who really thinks breaking his bones will make him stronger. How do you think teen readers will relate to Jonah?
Jonah is such a sweet kid. Once you get down to the truth, he is just this really good-hearted and completely misguided guy trying to figure out how to do what's right. I'm thinking he might be easier to understand if you have a younger sibling, but I don't have a younger sibling so I might just be making shit up. BREAK is the first book I wrote where the main character was actually the main character; I have a habit of writing from the point of views of brothers or sidekicks. BREAK is really about Jonah, and even though he's so affected by his family, it's still his story. You're very close to him in the story, so hopefully readers will sort of fall into him.
5) I don’t want to give away the ending, but I have to ask you if you think Jonah’s path will be especially tough for him or it you think he has what it takes to heal completely.
Oooh, that's something to think about. Honestly I think Jonah will be okay. Assimilating back into normal life will probably be a nightmare. And it will probably take awhile to build up trust with the people he's freaked out. But he's a strong kid. I think he'll deal. I'm more worried about Jesse, but that's just me, as I adore Jesse.
6) Jonah likes to bring up Confucianism on occasion. Is that a philosophy that has played a role in your life, as well?
Blah, I hate Confucianism. I call myself a Jewddist--a Jew-Buddhist. And I'm an existentialist. Basically I'm a mess...but nope, no Confucianism for me.The Confucianism was a really small thing in the first draft, then I amped it up because I realized it worked really well for him.
7) What is your writing process like? Are you an outliner? A fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type?
Seat of your pants. Unless I'm switching viewpoints, when I need to structure the story really carefully, I make things up as I go along. Usually I have a really short first draft, then I flesh it out in edits. The first draft of BREAK was 25,000 words or so. Jonah had one brother. The climax was veeeery different. There were a ton less broken bones. So I suppose you could call the first drafts a kind of extended outline.
8) I think it’s awesome that you wrote this story as a teenager. There are lots of teenagers out there who dream of being published one day. What advice would you give them?
Here's my standard advice--never think you're not good enough, and never think you can't get better. This is a crazy crazy frickin' world, and you never know what's going to sell--I certainly didn't think BREAK would, and the book I thought was my money project didn't pan out. I've written stuff since BREAK that I think is better and I've written stuff that's horrendously worse. It's impossible to be objective about your own stuff, that's the bottom line. So my advice is to produce as much as you can and give it all a chance. Don't give up!
9) I look forward to your next project. What’s in store for Hannah Moskowitz?
College is the only thing certain right now--I leave for Brown in two weeks. After that? Hopefully more books, more interviews, and even more of my obnoxious blogging. Keep your fingers crossed! I know I am . . .
And finally: Five Real Fast:
1) Your favorite flavor of ice cream: Cookie dough. I'm boring.
2) One book (besides BREAK) that you would turn into a movie: Looking for Alaska.
3) If you could live anywhere in the world it would be: Albuquerque or London. Or Hong Kong.
4) I you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be? A singer! I want to be a singer more than anything. No, I do not have the voice for it.
5) What spot on your life highway was/is the best? Oh, right this minute. Everything's getting better and better all the time. Here's hoping that continues!
Thanks for the interview, Hannah! We hope it just keeps getting better, too.
Now it's time for things to get better for one of our readers! We're giving away one ARC copy of BREAK to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. Your comment gets you one entry. If you're a member/follower, you get to leave another comment, for another entry. Finally, if you promote this contest on your blog, you get to leave yet another comment for a total of three possible entries! Leave your blog address in your comment so we can see what you're all about. No cheating! We'll be checking. ;) Contest ends on Wednesday, August 26th, so start commenting now!