Monday, February 26, 2024

Review: Strong at the Broken Places by Steven Newton


Genre: Romance/LGBTQ


“What happens when two intelligent, resilient women, both suffering the mental, emotional, and physical scars of severe abuse and living on the edge of poverty ... lose their jobs?

As each desperately struggles to recover her equilibrium, they find their lives further complicated by an experimental living situation, a precocious pre-teen daughter, a terminally ill best friend, a malevolent father, and a quirky priest with a penchant for playing matchmaker.

What do you get? Either a recipe of for disaster, or ... healing love?

Thirty-seven-year-old Sloan McKenzie has just been fired as a Catholic school administrator, and has barely enough in the bank to eat or pay next month’s rent, but not both. She accepts a part-time job teaching history at a struggling women’s college primarily because it will permit her to starve more slowly. In the closet for years, Sloan isn’t looking for love, though she could use a friend.

Leslyn Knapp became a teen mom at fifteen. Tossed into the streets, she’s fought every day to keep custody of her daughter without giving in to the internal voices that relentlessly insist that the world would be better off without her. Now twenty-seven and unexpectedly laid off, she’ll do whatever’s necessary to keep the two of them out of another shelter. "Whatever's necessary" has so far meant conning her way into a job in the dean’s office of the same small college, and signing up for a strange co-housing experiment. Leslyn needs a certain part-time professor to make the work commute possible, but she can’t afford friends.

Amanda Knapp is bright, athletic, motivated, and knows she has the best mother in the universe, all those “ghosts” that keep haunting Mom notwithstanding. But the twelve-year-old also suffers from persistent, often crippling anxiety that pulls her into dark places no matter how hard she fights. And Mom must not know; she cannot be a burden. The last thing she needs is an interloper who might threaten their exclusive, two-person team.

Sometimes, however, you don’t know what you really need until you stumble across it by accident.

This story is a love letter to all the women and daughters who find the courage to try and the resilience to persist in the hope of becoming … Strong at the Broken Places.”


A twenty-year member of the US military and then twenty seven years teaching history at Delaware State University hasn’t stopped Steven Newton from also writing lots of books, some traditionally published, others not. This is his nineteenth book.


I loved this book. It would be a great story about human struggles, familial support, and teamwork, even if the main characters weren’t lesbians who were struggling with that part of their lives as well. That part just upped the tension and, for those of us who don’t fit that description, it puts us in a situation we aren’t going to experience in real life. I think imagining what others unlike us go through in difficult times is good for all concerned and one of the reasons I like books like this.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Some adult language and content. The book’s description on Amazon has a long content advisory that, if you might potentially be triggered by the depiction of a character with mental health issues, you should check out before deciding to read this book.

Format/Typo Issues:

My review is based on an ARC, so I can’t gauge the final product in this area.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 125-130,000 words

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