All the Broken Things
September, 1983. Fourteen-year-old Bo, a boat person from Vietnam, lives in a small house in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto with his mother, Thao, and his four-year-old sister, who was born severely disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. Named Orange, she is the family secret; Thao keeps her hidden away, and when Bo's not at school or getting into fights on the street, he cares for her.
One day a carnival worker and bear trainer, Gerry, sees Bo in a streetfight, and recruits him for the bear wrestling circuit, eventually giving him his own cub to train. This opens up a new world for Bo--but then Gerry's boss, Max, begins pursuing Thao with an eye on Orange for his travelling freak show. When Bo wakes up one night to find the house empty, he knows he and his cub, Bear, are truly alone. Together they set off on an extraordinary journey through the streets of Toronto and High Park. Awake at night, boy and bear form a unique and powerful bond. When Bo emerges from the park to search for his sister, he discovers a new way of seeing Orange, himself and the world around them.
All the Broken Things is a spellbinding novel, at once melancholy and hopeful, about the peculiarities that divide us and bring us together, and the human capacity for love and acceptance.
FINALIST 2015 – Toronto Book Award
“All the Broken Things is a strange, beautiful novel about the fundamental human need to be seen and to be loved. Kuitenbrouwer’s Bear Boy, Bo, is an unforgettable creation—a true survivor who carries within him both the poison of war and its antidote. His creator is a fearless writer: she considers the full spectrum of human nature—from the monstrous to the wondrous—with a clear gaze and a capacious heart.”
—Alissa York, author of Effigy and Fauna
“All the Broken Things enchanted me, opened my eyes, broke my heart, made me wonder, left me changed. Kuitenbrouwer has told a remarkable story that explores the tenuous thresholds between illusion and reality, myth and history, monstrosity and beauty. This is a truly magical and important book.”
—Jessica Grant, author of Come, Thou Tortoise
“All the Broken Things is a dreamy, tender elegy to human failure and imperfection.”
—Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness and Irma Voth