Little Broken Things

A Novel

LIST PRICE $11.99

About The Book

“If you liked Big Little Lies, you’ll want to crack open this new novel by Nicole Baart.” —Southern Living

“Steeped in menace, Baart’s latest is a race-to-the-finish family drama.” —People

An engrossing and suspenseful novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Amy Hatvany about an affluent suburban family whose carefully constructed facade starts to come apart with the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn's house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Little Broken Things includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

From author Nicole Baart, whose writing has been called “gorgeously composed” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (RT Book Reviews), Little Broken Things is an absorbing and suspenseful story about two estranged sisters reunited by the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Little Broken Things explores motherhood in all its many forms. Tiffany and Liz are official parents, but Nora and Quinn also take on mothering roles in the book. What makes a good mother? Would you consider these women good mothers?

2. Liz is unlike the other characters in the novel. She’s old-fashioned, patriarchal, and even a little racist. How does she change throughout the book? What do you think prompts this change?

3. In the novel, Nora sacrifices a great deal for Tiffany and Everlee. Why do you think she does that? Would you have done the same in her position?

4. Remembering her late husband, Liz says: “Jack Sanford had not been a good man. True, he was steady and levelheaded and hardworking. He had made a way for himself in a world that favored the lucky, the people who were born with privilege and a place at the table. Jack Sr. had none of those things. But he took a small farmer’s inheritance and made something of it, built a legacy for his wife and kids and fought for it every day of his life. If he argued the validity of a bootstraps philosophy, it was only because he pulled himself up by them. A success story.” Do you feel that Jack’s challenges and determination in any way justify his actions?

5. Tiffany’s story is one of heartbreak and loss. She leaves because she believes her daughter will be better off without her. Is this act sacrificial or selfish? Do you agree with her decision?

6. Nora thinks of her sister as “perfect little Quinn.” In what ways does Quinn live up to that reputation? In what ways does she defy her sister’s expectations?

7. Why do you think Tiffany named her daughter Everlee?

8. Although Liz is loath to admit that she and Walker have some- thing in common, they are indeed both artists. Throughout the novel, what are some ways these two characters’ art influences their worldviews?

9. Who is your favorite character in Little Broken Things? Why? Is there a character you don’t like or don’t understand? Explain.

10. Why do you think Liz’s relationship with her daughters is so strained, and who—if anyone—is to blame? Do you have hope for them at the end of the book?

11. Throughout the novel, Everlee’s paternity is in question. How does the revelation of her real father affect your reading of the novel? Does it change your perspective of certain characters?

12. Toward the end of the novel, Liz tells Macy: “I think I have a God complex.” Do you agree that this affliction could apply to a multiple characters in Little Broken Things? If so, which ones?

13. At the end of the novel, Tiffany makes a very deliberate decision that ends in Donovan’s death. Is she a killer?

14. Walker names his sculpture Elizabeth Undone. Why do you think he does this? Is that an appropriate title for his piece?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Art plays an important role in Little Broken Things. Visit an art gallery with your book club, or if there is not one nearby, encourage book club members to share a picture of their favorite pieces of art.

2. Motherhood is a major theme in the novel, and many of us often forget how much sacrifice and love it requires. Take a moment today to thank your mother for the role she plays in your life. Send a card or flowers, or simply pick up the telephone. If your mother is no longer living, share a treasured memory of her with a friend or family member.

3. The Sanfords were known for their fabulous parties. Throw a party for your next book club meeting. Dress up, drink champagne, and enjoy some of the appetizers mentioned throughout Little Broken Things (e.g. endive stuffed with goat cheese and blood oranges; prosciutto-wrapped figs; or cherry tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil skewers).

4. Like Everlee, many children from broken homes find themselves in difficult situations and could use a little kindness and help. Make a donation of clothing, toys, or money to your state foster care organization or bring grocery items to your local food pantry. You never know the impact your gift may have on a child and his or her family!

About The Author

Photograph by Ellenvelde Photography

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of eight previous novels, including Little Broken Things and The Beautiful Daughters. Learn more at NicoleBaart.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (November 2017)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501133619

Raves and Reviews

"Sweet, scary and sometimes sordid, Little Broken Things is filled with determined women tenacious in their love for a girl whose childhood has been anything but easy."

– Shelf Awareness

"Mesmerizing...an accomplished exploration of the fragile bonds of a family as they attempt to overcome obstacles they never saw coming. 

– Publishers Weekly

"Baart’s novel of familial ties, betrayals, and longoverdue confrontations ventures into the territory of Paula Hawkins, Mary Kubica, and Kimberly Belle. Baart’s pacing keeps the novel driving forward, while a core group of narrators offers different perspectives on the murky facts of Lucy’s upbringing. Full of twists and turns, this is a great addition to the recent surge in suspenseful domestic fiction."

– Booklist

"Part psychological thriller, part women’s fiction, Baart’s latest novel is wholly compelling. Told from the perspectives of three complex women (a mother and her two adult daughters) over the course of four emotional days...Questions abound and, in true thriller fashion, answers are doled out on a need-to-know basis, keeping the tension high from beginning to end. Baart’s smartly exquisite prose and her setting of a scene, not so much physically as mentally, allows readers to relate personally to these three women and to embrace the little girl in their care. The intricacies of family relationships, love and friendship are all skillfully explored, layered in all the right places and captivating in its entirety."

– Romantic Times

"Richly atmospheric and featuring a compelling cast of sharply drawn female characters, Little Broken Things is both a page-turner and a thoughtful examination of what it means to mother and be mothered, in all its most real and varied forms." 

– Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her

"Beautifully layered...gives readers everything they could possible want in a novel - vivid, engaging characters, a town filled with dark secrets, a mind-twisting mystery and the ferocious power of a mother's love. Original and gripping, Little Broken Things is a stunner that will linger with you long after the final page is turned."

– Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not A Sound

“If you liked Big Little Lies, you’ll want to crack open this new novel by Nicole Baart, which will be released in November—just in time for your Thanksgiving holiday reading. This novel will engross you in the suspenseful story of Quinn Cruz; her estranged and troubled sister, Nora; and a mysterious little girl named Lucy who shows up on her doorstep.”

– Southern Living

"Nicole Baart weaves exquisite writing with unstoppable drama in this tale of family schisms and secrets on a collision course with life-threatening danger. Putting down Little Broken Things was impossible."

 

– Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of Accidents of Marriage and The Widow of Wall Street

"I have long been a fan of Nicole Baart’s finely crafted, flawed characters, her deft plotting, her fluid, lovely writing, and all of these gifts are on display in Little Broken Things. I cared about these sisters, feared and hoped for them, and lost my heart to Lucy, the locked-shut little girl living in the center of the book’s secrets. It’s a gripping and suspenseful tale that kept me turning pages late into the night; move it to the top of your stack."

– Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of The Almost Sisters

"Nicole Baart has outdone herself with this lush, evocative family drama full of shocking twists and a heart-warming grand finale. I will think about the Sanford family for a good long time. Put Little Broken Things on your fall reading list now!"

 

 

– Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

"Little Broken Things made me abandon my life and responsibilities for days. Stunning, beautifully wrought, tenaciously hopeful—move this book to the very top of your book club list."

– Kimberly Stuart, author of Sugar: A Novel and the Heidi Elliott series

“Hold on to your hearts for this one. Nicole Baart leaves no emotion untapped with Little Broken Things as she nudges readers to ask: What kind of mother am I? With page after page of her trademark lyrical prose, Baart offers a treat of a tale that will please her loyal readers while drawing the praise of many more. Soul-stretchingly good!”

 

– Julie Cantrell, author of Into the Free and Perennials

“Suspenseful, heartfelt, and emotionally rich, Little Broken Things explores the complicated bonds of family—those we’re born into and those we choose. Baart’s writing—as always—is a delight.”

– Elizabeth Blackwell, author of While Beauty Slept and In the Shadow of Lakecrest

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