Broken RootsBroken Roots follows the journey of a seventeen year-old girl as her family falls apart. Teisha goes from having money to having none, and from the US back to her native England. Although, she very much treasures her Caribbean heritage. I felt a big part of that was due to her strong relationship with her grandmother. She was a loving and truly maternal figure. Teisha goes on to discover her family isn’t what she thought it was, even when she already knew it wasn’t perfect. She struggles with the events that unfold, and starts to lose her grip on reality. Things progress and she has the opportunity to piece her life together again but not before being confronted by more issues surfacing from the past.

This novel is from author Michelle Diana Lowe, who writes in the Young Adult genre. She uses her work to raise awareness of important topics.

Broken Roots did keep me reading. A couple of times I found myself staying up late just to read an extra page or two. I also set aside another book I’m reading to get through this first. Once I’d got into Teisha’s story, I wanted to see how it progressed and what would be her ultimate fate. More action at the start of the book would have helped me get started. Books with a 50 page dash perform well, especially when it comes to digital previews translating into sales. This was needed here.

I liked the author’s inclusion of a mental health theme and felt this came from experience or understanding. It’s an issue not to be underestimated or overlooked. It was great to see Michelle Diana Lowe making it such a central theme to the story. There were a few sections where I really felt Teisha was going around and around. She was stuck in mental traps, and it had me also feeling like I was losing it.

Compared to most Urban Fiction novels I read, Broken Roots had next to no mistakes in it. There was one mix up over ‘role’ vs. ‘roll’ but otherwise it felt spot on. The author’s vocabulary was also extensive. The breadth of descriptive words deployed helped generate an airy and dreamy feel to the writing style. Many of the words aren’t what I would usually expect to see in Urban Fiction. That tends to be course and gritty prose. The light feel here was also accentuated by the first person present tense. I’m not sure this was the best feel for the type of story though. It’s something I’d imagine better suited to a classic novel. Perhaps if Teisha had been shown to have a particular interest in such novels then the classic voice would have sounded more genuine, despite the modern setting and youth of her character.

There were also long introspective sections, with the central character narrating her thoughts about her situation. I would have preferred to have come to understand her thoughts and feelings through actions and events unfolding in the plot. There is much to be said for ‘show me, don’t tell me’ in writing style, but it can be particularly difficult when you are close to your characters and want to pour their soul out onto the pages.

The most compelling sections of Broken Roots was when the story picked up pace and action was happening, or dialogue was unfolding.

I wanted Teisha to be a bit more independent and stronger. It seemed she was always going from one person to another and couldn’t support herself. Perhaps that’s an unfair criticism of a seventeen year-old in this situation but it made it difficult to like her as much as I wanted to. I wanted to see her make a success out of it all because of her own efforts. As a result, she did feel younger than she was supposed to be, maybe more like thirteen or fourteen. And that seemed to tie in with her lack of experience with boys – yet to have been kissed.

One part of the story, which must have been difficult to construct, was how Teisha got a raw deal from her parents (they put her though all sorts). And I say this because despite swearing she’d never forgive them she always seemed to end up letting them back in. This is probably where I wanted to see decisiveness from her the most. But I guess kids will always need their parents and that’s the sad thing about parents who don’t treat them right – they get away with so much – and kids will still come back to them.

The parts of Broken Roots that focused on fostering and adoption did make me think a lot, due to my own indirect experience with the subject. I’m glad that it was included. It was rather incredible though that she so quickly ended up with a foster mother who was prepared to do so much for her.

This was the first book I’ve read from Michelle Diana Lowe and it was okay. I would read more from her because she is clearly passionate about both writing and the subjects she infuses into her stories. Her writing isn’t superficial and holds promise to raise awareness of important issues. I enjoyed this book but wanted more from it. The feeling that there was room for more was the main driver for me rating it three rather than four stars. I’m confident Michelle has the potential to deliver more of what I was looking for, so I’ll be looking out for her next title.

 An enjoyable book on the whole. I wanted more in some areas.

More places to find Michelle Diana Lowe

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More books from Michelle Diana Lowe

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Sam Hunter
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Founder of UrbanFiction.org and supporter of all urban fiction authors. Author of the Makaveli’s Prince books. His first novel, Book One, was described by Street Literature as a “true tribute to hip-hop” and weaves a thrilling ride through some of hip-hop’s darkest secrets. You won’t be able to put his books down. They're packed with conspiracy, drama and often centered on strong female characters. You’re in for a ride.

All his books are on Amazon Kindle and Google Play Books.