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Book Review: Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock

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In a world where love is a tentative and flawed state of mind, we find Mickey Chandler and Lucy Houston, two souls who are so badly broken and so completely tested, they should not have found each other at all.

But they did.

Worse yet, they fell in love and married. Better yet, they fell in love and married.

Mickey is bipolar and suffers long, psychotic episodes for which he must be hospitalized. That’s where we meet him at the novel’s beginning. Lucy is strong and provides the stability and anchor Mickey needs. However, Lucy is a breast cancer survivor who fatalistically looks around every corner for the specter of Death. It’s not just the thought of Death; she’s been visited by a deathly apparition for years, a phantom who visits her just before a loved one passes over. Her fixation with Death is the kind that makes you wonder.

Although somewhat defective, the Chandlers are a realistic couple. Lucy and Mickey are fine as a single unit, but they are so sure of their inability to be more than that, that they have signed a pact not to have any children.

Until Lucy gets pregnant.

That’s where a poignant love story about two totally imperfect people takes a hard 180 and leads to an intimate dissection of a marriage, the anatomy of family relationships — thank God for sisters — and the roller coaster of emotions of mother for baby. Dancing on Broken Glass is not just a love story, but an extreme love story, one that weathers every hardship with grace.

But if you’re looking for a fairy tale and a “happily ever after” ending, don’t pick up this book. If you do decide to take the plunge, buy a box of Kleenex and be prepared to be emotionally eviscerated and spent by the time you finish. It would be a hardened human being who doesn’t sob through the final 50 pages. The “ever after” isn’t happy, but at least there’s growth, hope, and love.

Dancing on Broken Glass is artfully told by debut novelist Ka Hancock. Measuring any future releases to this epic first novel will be difficult, this book is that good. The grief and sadness of her characters is palpable and real. We all know people like Lucy and Mickey; we know love stories like theirs — damaged, tested, but everlasting.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.