Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Review: House Broken by Sonja Yoerg

Title: House Broken   
Author: Sonja Yoerg 
Published: January 2015, NAL Trade
Format: ARC E-copy, 336 pages   
Source: Netgalley via Author   

In this compelling and poignant debut novel, a woman skilled at caring for animals must learn to mend the broken relationships in her family.…

For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.

Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.

Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive.

My thoughts: This is Sonja Yoerg's debut novel and I have to say I was definitely drawn to the book because of the cover. The lab on the cover looks almost exactly like my chocolate lab, Maddie and so of course I couldn't pass up reading this book.

This is a story about family and secrets and how many times, though we'd like it not to be the case, you can never really move on from something until you face the past. While the book has quite a serious tone to it, the analogies about animal behavior and witty dialogue help to balance it from becoming too heavy. Just as often as I would cringe at someone's behavior or gasp when another secret was revealed, I found myself giggling at someone's comment or action. 

I liked how the book was told from the perspectives of three of the main characters - Geneva, her mother Helen, and her daughter Ella. I found this allowed me to really get into the characters' minds, to understand just how misunderstandings could occur - seeing the same event from everyone's point of view gives a much more balanced perspective than if everything was told from one person. It also allows you to empathize more with the characters, and while each of the characters at times grated on my nerves, I also understood their motivations a bit more. 

There are many characters in this book, yet I found them all the be well-developed. What is even more important is that they are all flawed, making them so real and relatable. Throughout the book, I found myself both liking and disliking almost all the characters for some reason or another. There are events that occur that will have you screaming for common sense to prevail in a character and then at another time, you are rooting for them when something else happens. This is a book that doesn't hold back - it tells things like it is, with no sugar-coating, and that's refreshing! 

While the dog on the cover isn't actually in the story, I did appreciate all the comparisons that Sonja makes between animal and human behavior. The dogs that are part of the story serve a purpose and the way they are paired up with their owners is quite telling. I love reading about the interactions people have their dogs - it's something as a dog owner I can relate to.

This was an emotionally charged read. There's a lot going on and it's hard not to become invested with the characters. I flew through the pages and couldn't wait to see how it all played out. Now I'm curious to see what comes next for Sonja Yoerg...I hope this is just the first of many more fiction books from her!!!

Maddie (w/red bandanna) looks like dog on cover of book! [I have 2 dogs - other dog is Chloe.]



  1. That baby looks just like my chic too! And I would also pick this for the cover alone. Great review!

  2. Covers with dogs sell books :) At the very least they make me want to know more about the book. I'll add this to my TBR list.

  3. I have seen the cover of this book around a lot in 2014, which I guess was good marketing by someone. The cover is so enticing. This is the first review though, and I think while it obviously is slightly at odds with the cuteness of the cover this is one I'll buy this year and read.... when the gap becomes available!!

  4. I too was drawn to the cover and while the dog is so cute (as are yours) I thought it strange that the cover didn't really match the story. But I did enjoy the book.


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