Bones Worth Breaking: A Memoir

MCD. Apr. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9780374610951. pap. $18. MEMOIR
Martinez’s first book is a raw, gritty, and powerfully honest memoir of the life of two brothers, lived in the liminal spaces of family, school, religion, race, and nationality. It opens with stomach-churning detail about the author’s childhood injuries, especially the broken bones and untreated gashes accrued as he and his younger brother, Mike, pushed themselves skateboarding. These scenes become vivid metaphors for the pain and challenges the brothers would experience as they are shaped by family dysfunction, the expectations of their Mormon religion, and systemic racism as Black and Brazilian American people. One of the brothers has a substance-use disorder, while the other tries to improve his own mental health. The narrative moves back and forth through time, letting readers know early on that Mike has died. Martinez slowly fills in the pieces of his story in an engrossing way. The details are often heavy when they come, and Martinez excels at visceral and emotionally aware descriptions.
VERDICT This memoir is a poignant portrait of the love between two brothers and a shared life, with descriptions of traumatic experiences and the resulting scars. The relevance of the book’s themes and topics, alongside Martinez’s openness and exceptional writing skill, will undoubtedly connect with many readers.
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