“Jasper is a beautiful little town, but we’re not immune to the uglier parts of life.” All the Broken People (Compathy Press), a debut psychological suspense novel, could not be summed up any better. Author Amy Rivers tells the story of Alice Bennett who, despite her troubled past, now lives a life of idyllic happiness. So it seems.
Her husband Will is a successful lawyer. She is passionate about her writing career. But Alice lives a world apart from how her life looks from the outside. In reality, her marriage is tense and uncertain. Past secrets haunt everyone, including Alice. As we read, we wonder which characters aren’t broken and how they will manage to move on despite their wounds.
After a strange and suspicious fall leaves Alice’s mother-in-law needing extra care, she is more than happy to volunteer as caretaker. She travels to Will’s home town of Jasper, Georgia, to gain his affection. The more time she spends there, the more she realizes she may not have really known him at all. Small towns, just like people, carry their own secrets even while presenting an air of openness and acceptability.
Enter Beth Simms, a fellow Jasper native who abruptly disappeared from town several years ago and now has just as suddenly reappeared. Her and her brother, Larry Lee, had an abusive mother and a father who passed away too soon. Their relationship has always been strained, so when Beth returns, Larry Lee anxiously wants to skip town. His sister’s presence only gets him in worse trouble. But then he becomes obsessed with Alice Bennett.
The siblings watch Alice without her knowing, until she learns the history behind a long-lived grudge (think Hatfield vs. McCoy) between the Bennett’s and Simms’. Alice starts to piece together the events of her mother-in-law’s fall, the recent reappearance of Beth and the seemingly always nearby Larry Lee. But how far will the people of Jasper go to preserve the illusions of their lives?
Rivers does an amazing job of intertwining a multitude of stories around Alice without confusing the reader. Each character brings a unique twist to the storyline with just enough suspense and mystery that you’re puzzled trying to figure out which characters to root for (and, for me, that changed many times during the book). From revenge to justice, grudges to forgiveness and hidden secrets to exposed truths, All the Broken People touches on familiar issues with a fresh, relateable perspective. I could envision myself right in the middle of Jasper as both sides of human nature come out. Despite being afraid of what we might uncover about our neighbors, we can’t help but look.
All the Broken People is available for purchase.
About Amy Rivers:
Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado with her husband, two kids and one very spoiled dog named Molly. She has a Master’s degree with concentrations in Psychology and Politics, two topics she loves to incorporate into her personal essays and novels. Amy has been published in Flash! A Celebration of Short Fiction, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, Novelty Bride Magazine, ESME.com and Splice Today. She is the author of three novels: Wallflower Blooming (2016), Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters (2017), and All the Broken People (2019).
Find out more at her website http://www.amyrivers.com/