The Sound of Breaking Glass by Kirsten Warner – 2018

Sound-of-Breaking-Glass-cover-1Christel is married to Ted and they have two children, Jim and Maisie. Christel works in TV – making reality TV shows that emphasise people’s suffering.  Christel is a rape survivor. Christel was taken advantage of when a teenager. Christel’s father was scarred and traumatised by the holocaust.  Christel is losing her mind.

The sound of breaking glass is an extraordinarily powerful novel about the persistence of trauma and the effects of the abuse of power.  In Auckland, Christel is negotiating a career in a high-pressure work environment while raising two young children.  She is accompanied by a shape-shifting alter-ego The Big C(ritic), who takes on myriad carefully described personas.

When, partly for work reasons, Christel gets involved in a feminist movement which aims to raise awareness of the evils of plastics and their long-lasting damage to the environment, she creates a large Golem-like man out of empty milk bottles as part of the campaign.  But the Milk Bottle Man takes on a life of his own, threatening Christel’s relationship with her WASP (Women Against Surplus Plastic) colleagues, her work colleagues, her family, and with her own grip on reality.

Through Christel’s hectic activities we find out about her past, the mysteries of her family, her turbulent adolescence and what she might be psychologically running away from.  The sources of pain in her background are referred to by archetypal labels: Artist, Karate Man,  Teacher.  Through the reader’s knowledge of history, Christel’s discoveries of her father’s experiences are vivid and truly shocking.

Despite the almost cathartic intensity of this book, it has an underlying humanity that enables you to believe in Christel’s journey – and marvel not only at the horrors humans are capable of but also their powerful ability to endure and even flourish. You should read this book.

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