Fiction - Realistic
212 Pages
Reviewed on 05/19/2024
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

Once upon a time, in the bustling city of Oakland, California, there was a man named J.R Rice. He was a Black man with a passion for writing, teaching, and spoken word artistry. J.R had always been captivated by the power of words and their ability to inspire, motivate and transform lives. As a young man, he knew that he wanted to make a difference in the world through his writing and his ability to connect with people. After receiving his B.A in Creative Writing and an English Education teaching credential from California State University of Long Beach, J.R set out to pursue his dreams. He traveled abroad to Greece, where he had the honor of being mentored by the renowned author, George Crane. It was there that he honed his skills and developed his unique voice, which he would later use to inspire and empower countless others. His novella, Broken Pencils earned the 2024 Literary Titan Gold Book Award, the Literary Global Gold Award, 2024 Hawthorne Prize Shortlist, and Third place in Best African-American Literature and Best New Fiction in the 2024 Firebird Book Award contest. In addition to his writing accolades, he earned the Rookie of the Year award at the 2005 National Collegiate Poetry Slam in Philadelphia. He was a Semi-Finalist in the 2023 Berkeley Poetry Slam Finals. To learn more about J.R. Rice, please visit his website at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jennie More for Readers' Favorite

Broken Pencils by J.R. Rice is the story of a Black high school teenager diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The story starts with him preparing to go to his prom in San Francisco. Many elements resulted in the catastrophe of this night. His prom is on the anniversary of his best friend's death, Keon. Keon died several years ago, and on the night of Keon's death, Jonah tried to commit suicide as he could not envision life without Keon. His prom falls on the day before his 18th birthday, and a time when he has stopped taking his bipolar medication. Throughout the night, he experiences highs and lows, constantly thinking of his best friend and the poem "The Teacher" by Langston Hughes. Though he loves his mom, father, brother, friend Trevon, and girlfriend, Taniesha, dearly, this love is at odds with his mental illness, and he cannot distinguish between love and hate and constantly falters between the two emotions. This emotional rollercoaster takes Jonah on an unexpected and twisted ride from his prom to the morning of his birthday.

Broken Pencils by J.R. Rice is an absorbing, compelling, and intriguing book that delves into the complexities of mental illness. I went on this journey with Jonah and developed a deeper understanding of the challenges he faces. It's through social interactions with various characters that the reader gets a preview into the challenges that someone with bipolar disorder faces in everyday normal social interactions, and this is especially apparent in Jonah's interactions with his friend Trevon and his girlfriend, Taniesha. I enjoyed the quotes from songs and the poem by Hughes that feature throughout at pivotal and relevant moments, giving a deeper understanding of Jonah's complex emotions at each point in time. Broken Pencils tackles a sensitive and difficult topic in a meaningful way that provides food for thought and allows one to become introspective about mental illness and the difficulties faced by those who live with it, developing a deeper understanding and empathy. The writing is poetic, captivating your attention throughout.