Broken Dreams

Spiraling Book 2

Young Adult - Social Issues
241 Pages
Reviewed on 06/04/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

Broken Dreams is the second installment in the Spiraling series by H.L. Karhoff. Here you follow a deceptively simple young adult drama about the coming of age of Tori Douglas. If you put yourself in Tori’s shoes, you won’t have a second thought about punching your close friend Kennedy when she tells your boyfriend Devon that you slept with your friend Carter, so that your boyfriend will break up with you. A friend like that is not worth it, anyway, but punching a popular girl in school comes with a price—you become a pariah because you fall prey to the ridicule of Kennedy and her entourage. Your boyfriend Devon just got out of a youth detention center, and he becomes your shoulder to lean on. Yet you sense something different about Devon, and you pretend that everything is fine. You fear letting go because everything else in your life threatens to disintegrate— including your relationship with your mother and your stepfather. As for Devon, would losing you be the one thing that he would ever want?

I will not hesitate to recommend this book as a top priority in your young adult reading list. Broken Dreams is a brilliant work of dramatic realism blended with metaphysical and psychological elements to tell a powerful story that gives deep meaning to the term 'teen angst.' The plot sticks close to Tori as the storyline explores her relationship with the people around her. H.L. Karhoff knows how to build tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Just consider the scene between Tori’s stepfather, James, and her brother, Chris, as these two vie for dominance in the household when Chris refuses to turn down his stereo’s volume. Much about the pains of growing up is explored in Broken Dreams, but it does have lighthearted moments that will give you hope about the gift of youth. Without even trying it becomes a memorable story about survival.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Broken Dreams is the second installment of the Spiralling series by H. L. Karhoff. It picks up the thread from where the first book left off. After her once best friend sabotaged her relationship with Devon, Tori Douglas is lonelier than ever. When Carter, her sole remaining friend, starts dating her cousin Joy, she feels like an outsider. At home, her mother gradually becomes distant and busy with her younger kids and her second husband. After Devon gets released from the juvenile home, he once again becomes Tori’s refuge. Yet, things are different this time. Devon seems to have gone back to substance abuse and treats Tori horribly. While everyone insists Devon is a bad influence, can Tori stay away from her love?

This teenage drama draws our attention to many worrying social issues. Although Broken Dreams is the second book in the series, with plenty of references to the previous book it can be read as a standalone. H. L. Karhoff portrays Tori’s plight realistically. With a ‘showing, not telling’ approach, the author reveals how abandoned Tori feels. With her dominating stepfather constantly punishing her and her mother blaming her for everything, she seeks solace in drinks and wild parties. Devon’s presence puts her in a dilemma as she cannot choose between her love for him and his flaws. On the other hand, the glimpses of Devon’s abusive family explain his dysfunctional life and recurring addiction. Taut with emotions and gut-wrenching moments, this book provides a heavy yet thought-provoking read.

Edith Wairimu

In Broken Dreams (Spiraling Book 2) by H.L. Karhoff, a fifteen-year-old reconnects with her boyfriend but realizes he has changed and is not the person she knew. Alienated by her friends and betrayed by one of her best friends, Victoria “Tori” Douglas struggles to fit in with her boyfriend’s group. As an outsider in school, she has to rely on her friends, Joy and Carter. Tori is excited at reviving her relationship with Devon following his return from juvenile detention. At first, he is charming and caring, even willing to defend her. Still, Tori is concerned when she sees his unstable and violent side. With no one to turn to, Tori tries to support him and dismiss his erratic behavior.

Through the experiences of its characters, Broken Dreams tackles topics relevant to the potential audience with skill. As a teenager, Tori faces challenges that include social isolation, self-identity, and body image issues, as well as exposure to drugs. With an overbearing stepfather and a distant mother, Tori also feels misunderstood at home. Family conflict also arises in other ways. The novel is written from Tori’s point of view, another element that will help young adult readers connect with Tori and her story. Descriptions are accurate and what is left unsaid is covered through Tori’s thoughts that are included in the narrative. The book is also enhanced by other sub-plots which include Joy and Carter’s story. Its precise descriptions, captivating plot, and realistic characters make Broken Dreams (Spiraling Book 2) by H.L. Karhoff an exceptional young adult novel.

Lesley Jones

In Broken Dreams by H.L. Karhoff, Tori Douglas has still not forgiven her best friend Kennedy for humiliating her in front of the school. Her true love, Devon, has been away in juvie for weeks now and she misses him dreadfully. He is the one person she can trust and even when she discovers his colorful love life, Tori believes that their relationship is different. However, when Devon is released, his behavior and attitude toward her and others begin to sound alarm bells. He has changed and Tori wishes she could confide in her cousin JoyAnn and friend Carter, but she is unsure who she can trust after Kennedy’s betrayal. Tori also wishes her mother could see the good side of Devon, but she is still forbidden to have any contact with him. Tori ignores her mother and her strict step-father, James, and continues a secret relationship with Devon. When Tori realises she can no longer ignore Devon’s volatility, she has to make an important decision. Does she listen to her intuition or her heart?

Broken Dreams by H.L. Karhoff has a very engaging plot that continually unravels, revealing interesting aspects of the characters. I found the relationship dynamics between the teenage characters very realistic. The dialogue was sharp and believable also. Tori was a great character; her need to heal everyone she came into contact with, especially Devon, was quite endearing. She was also not afraid to stand up for what she believed in and did not become a victim of peer pressure, which I found admirable. Devon was a complex character and the introduction of his mother explained his behavior and view of the world perfectly. James, Tori’s stepfather, made many mistakes in building his relationship with Tori. He seemed to demand respect and did not realize respect has to be earned. I related to Tori’s mother as she tried to build bridges with her daughter, but again, the lack of an emotional, honest conversation kept the barriers between them. This situation was tackled very well. There were many important lessons weaved throughout the plot, which I loved. The author handled situations of peer pressure, bullying, forgiveness, betrayal, young love and jealousy brilliantly. The ending was heartbreaking but with another life lesson subtly included. This is such a well-written story and one I would recommend.

Astrid Iustulin

Love is always a complicated matter, but when your significant other has problems of his own, things become even more difficult. This a lesson Tori, the young protagonist of H. L. Karhoff's Broken Dreams, has to learn by herself. When her boyfriend Devon, an addict, finally comes out of juvie, she will realize there is a price to pay in loving a boy like that. Will Tori be happy with Devon in the end, or will she expect a different ending? It's your chance to discover this by reading Broken Dreams.

What I liked most about Broken Dreams is that this book is not about a usual love story. On the contrary, there is a lot more going on here. Karhoff delves into the problems a relationship with an addict can cause you to experience. Overall, the author does not show us an edulcorated reality. Difficult situations are real, and Tori has to face them sooner or later. I also like how Karhoff takes the time to describe the characters and their feelings.

As much as Tori and Devon are the main characters and those who get the lion's share, their friends and the adults around them are also memorable. For example, the depictions of Devon's mother and Tori's stepfather stand out among others. Overall, H. L. Karhoff's Broken Dreams is a great novel, and although the story it tells is gloomy sometimes, it is a read I recommend to all readers who like complicated love stories. They will not be disappointed with this offering.