Usually I hate taglines on book covers,* but the tagline on the cover of Megan Miranda’s Fracture says it all,
A lot can happen in eleven minutes.
That line is from this early passage in the novel, which creates the premise of this fascinating debut,
A lot can happen in eleven minutes. Decker can run two miles easily in eleven minutes. I once wrote an English essay in ten. No lie. And God knows Carson Levine can talk a girl out of her clothes in half that time.
Eleven minutes might as well be eternity underwater. According to the lessons from health class, it only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs. Death is possible at five minutes. Probable at seven. Definite at ten.
Decker pulled me out at eleven.
Fracture tells the story of Delaney, a teenage girl who miraculously survives eleven minutes submersed in a frozen pond and is saved by her best friend/boy next door, Decker. It begins on a frightening note,
My ear was pressed against the surface, so I heard the fracture branch out, slowly at first, then with more speed. Faint crackles turned to snaps and crunches, and then silence. I didn’t move. Maybe it would hold if I just stayed still. I saw Decker’s legs sprinting back toward me. And then the ice gave way.
After waking from a coma when she wasn’t supposed to live, Delaney’s life is weird—to say the least. She soon meets the slightly older Troy, who claims to have had survived when he was not supposed to, just like Delaney. The two begin to spent time together, and bad things happen when Troy’s around and lives and relationships are transformed permanently. There’s not much else I can say about the details of the subsequent events, aside from this is at the point which how you read Fracture will likely head in one direction or another.
I read Fracture as a contemporary novel exploring the reaches of the human brain.
However, I’ve since discovered that this is not the dominate opinion—most reviewers have read it as a contemporary with significant paranormal elements. I have no idea what the author’s intent was, despite spending a lot of time reading her blog and seeking out interview she did around Fracture’s release. (Megan Miranda’s science background makes me suspect that I’m thinking along the right lines regarding her intent, but that’s just guesswork.)
Like most things, reading is heavily influenced by your personal point of view, and since I have quite a bit of experience with traumatic brain injuries (not my own) akin to Delaney’s and as a result have done a fair amount of reading about the often-strange experiences people have immediately following surviving such injuries, I read all of the novel as an exploration of that. As a result, for me Fracture reads in the unreliable narrator style—I was never quite sure if Delaney’s experiences were (to quote Peeta) real or not real.
Regardless of whether her experiences were real or not, the rawness of Delaney’s emotions were deftly rendered in clean, compelling prose. And the relationships in Fracture are complex, from Delaney’s longtime friendship with Decker, to her uneven relationship with her parents. She doesn’t suffer from YA Missing Parent Syndrome™, yet her parent’s aren’t the YA Ridiculously Perfect Parents™ either. They have problems and issues of their own, but they ultimately want their daughter to be okay.
I did, however, grow frustrated with the seeming unnecessary inclusion of Delaney’s self-deprecating comments about her appearance.
It seemed out of place with the story. Despite that it is a “normal” teen girl behavior, since nothing else that was happening in Fracture was of the “normal” variety, it seems jarring and out-of-place. The same is true of the occasional snark about other girls’ appearance, which felt equally out-of-place, pulling me out of an otherwise captivating and unique story. While this lent something to my argument that this is a contemporary novel told from the point-of-view of an unreliable narrator, I could have done without it nevertheless.
Fracture is an intriguing genre-bending novel that explores the complexities of the human brain.
Ultimately, that’s why I enjoyed it so much. I keep looking for reasons why I shouldn’t like Fracture,** because I made the mistake of looking at the reviews from some of my favorite reviewers, and I see they generally were lukewarm at best on this one. Perhaps because I’m coming from a different place as a reader, but Fracture is a novel that’s stuck with me. When I finished reading the final page of Fracture, my first thought was,
I want to talk to someone about this book. Right now! Even though it’s 1 o’clock in the morning!
Megan Miranda’s Fracture the sort of book I’d love my book club to read, because I imagine the discussion would be quite lively and divergent—and I absolutely love it when books make that happen.
FNL Character Rating: Waverly, Smash’s troubled girlfriend from season one.
*What can I say? I worked in marketing departments way too long to tolerate most taglines.
**Here’s a fun story: I bought a signed hardback on a whim (the cover design is stunning—it just glows in a sea of generic YA covers) because my really awesome local bank randomly sent me a $25 giftcard to Powell’s as a thank you. I’d mentioned their excellent graphic design on Twitter and apparently that meant a lot to their creative team, and they saw I was a book dork and sent me the gift card. Isn’t that cool?