OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List: Bent Not Broken

July 13, 2017 at 11:48 am Leave a comment

From Natalie C., Reference & Digital Resources Librarian

The fourth in our blog series on the OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List. Selected by kids for kids, the list has 20 great books for students grades 5 through 8. Follow along on the blog as I attempt to profile as many books on the list as I can before the school year starts up again.

Today I’m profiling Bent Not Broken by Lorna Schultz-Nicholson.

The Haiku Review


problems seen, unseen / writing poems, riding horses / bend like the willow

Major Players:

  • Madeline, who suffered a brain injury when she was 8.
  • Justin, Madeline’s partner in the Best Buddies program who has experienced a tragedy of his own: the death of his sister, Faith who had autism
  • Becky, Madeline’s identical twin sister who is becoming less like Madeline by the day

One-Sentence Summary

Part of the Best Buddies program, which pairs students with intellectual disabilities with a volunteer, Justin helps Madeline manage her emotions when dealing with her difficult twin sister Becky while Madeline helps Justin cope with the death of his sister.

Authorial Anecdote

Lorna Schultz-Nicholson has written other novels in the One-2-One series, each one profiling a different Best Buddies pair. These include Fragile Bones: Harrison and Anna and Born With: Erika and Gianni.

Tough Topics

Bent Not Broken deals with issues facing youth with disabilities, divorce, depression, suicide, eating disorders, and alcohol and tobacco use.

Kids List Connections

Bent Not Broken is the third book from the Kid Committee Summer Reading List to be told in alternating perspectives. Like Month of Mondays, this book features a pair of feuding sisters and discusses issues related to divorce. Madeline & Becky’s parents split up after Madeline’s accident and the two shuttle back and forth between their parents’ homes.

Quick Quotes

Madeline: “Sometimes I think I should just wear a sign. I fell off my bike. I hurt my brain. Words get stuck in my brain. And I talk slowly. I know that. I almost picture the words and see them first, before they travel to my mouth. I think it’s when they start to move that they slow down, like an old train screeching to a stop.”

Justin: “I nodded, staring at the photo. She had been pretty. And Faith had been the spitting image of her. They’d had a deep bond and my mother had done everything to help her with her autism and support her. She never tried to change her and I had liked that.”

What’d I think?

7.5/10 willow branches that bend but never break
I really appreciated this lovely and moving story about friendship and resilience. Nicholson offers a refreshing and honest depiction of young people with disabilities. Scenes of the Best Buddies program events and meetings were my favourite. I’ve recently started volunteering with an organization that also supports youth with developmental disabilities and Nicholson was definitely able to capture the inspiring fun of our events. I also liked that Justin and Madeline were able to support each other — each learning from the other. Shifting between Madeline and Justin’s perspectives worked well in giving readers a sense of how the pair’s experiences are the same and how they differ. An inspiring story that teaches readers to believe in themselves.

Check out the other blog posts in our series:


And stay tuned for more posts on the OLA Kid Committee books.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Readers save the world infographic Summer Reading for Kids

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