The Way Back from Broken
Amber J. Keyser
Published July 7th 2015 by HarperTeen
YA > Contemporary | Fiction

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From Publisher Weekly
The novel follows two adolescents, one 15 and one 10, who are both older siblings of infants who died. When the two kids are taken into the Canadian wilderness by one of their mothers, they find disaster, “in addition to the fragile hope and terrible beauty that mark the way back from broken.”






You Do Not Have to Save the World


Tonight before bed, I asked my eleven-year-old daughter what she thought a “quiet” book was. A thoughtful expression furled her brow. “It’s hard to explain,” she said, “but I think it is a book that you need a quiet place to read and understand.” 
Long after I kissed her goodnight, I thought about her definition of quiet books, and I thought about myself as a young reader. Back then I gravitated to high fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to devour big stories where brave girls tamed dragons or fought orcs or completed quests. I loved the way these stories send adrenaline coursing through my veins and made my heart gallop in my chest. 
At the same time, I wondered if I could ever be that brave, that smart, that fearless. I worried that the dragon would eat me, the orc would disarm me, and the quest would go unconquered.
Because I was ordinary.
Absolutely ordinary.
I had crushes on ordinary boys. I had ordinary problems with friends. The biggest quest I ever faced was a lost cat. Ordinary life. Ordinary me. I did not read quiet books because I did not want my quiet life. I wanted to save the world.
I have walked a few miles since then. Some of them excruciatingly painful, heart-breaking miles. Along the way, I have redefined hero. I have redefined brave. I have learned that living an ordinary life as an ordinary person requires the most extraordinary fortitude.
My reading has also changed. I tend to read realistic fiction more than anything else. I want, desperately sometimes, to know that others have faced the challenges I face and that they have met those ordinary challenges not with raised swords and magic spells but with the everyday courage of being kind, being genuine, and being willing to keep going.
My debut novel, THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN, is about how we grieve and how we survive and how we learn to live, and even thrive, after we have been broken into a million jagged pieces. It is a quiet book, a slow book, a real book. It is a story poured straight from heart to yours.
I think that my daughter was right when she said that a “quiet” book is one that needs a “quiet” place to be understood. That quiet place nestles right in the very core of our beings—the quiet place in which we know that we do not have to slay the dragon or save the world. We have to love and be loved, to live a good and true life, and to remember that this is heroic in its own quiet way.
You are the story, and it is a good one.






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AMBER J. KEYSER is a former ballerina and evolutionary biologist with a master’s degree in zoology and a doctorate in genetics. She writes both fiction and nonfiction for young adult readers. Kirkus Reviews said that THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN is “a quiet and memorable story of how paddling in the wilderness forces two unlikely friends to face their grief and embrace their power.” Find out more at amberjkeyser.com and on Twitter @amberjkeyser.







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For you, what is #QuietYA?