Review: Fix Me by Rune Michaels

Publication Date: December 6th, 2011
Antheneum Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 149 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Orphaned as a child, terrorized by her abusive brother, and haunted by memories, Leia feels exposed, powerless, and vulnerable. When her tormented mind can stand it no longer, she escapes to the zoo, where she finds shelter and seeks refuge. The zoo is a sanctuary: a protective space for families, and a safe place for the traumatized to forget. But can she ever feel safe? Can she ever forget?
Once again, Rune Michaels brings us a harrowing psychological drama that raises questions about the very nature of humanity. This chilling tale will challenge our preconceptions of family, memory, and self, leaving readers wondering, are we the pinnacle of evolution—or are we just animals on display?

This is one of those books where you walk away feeling bereft and a bit like you’ve lost someone vital in your life but for the life of you, you can’t remember their name. It was being completely involved – engrossed in a storyteller’s tale only to be left hanging because the storyteller didn’t finish his story. It was frustrating to say the least.

Leia has been abused for most of her life. When she wasn’t bleeding from the violent fights her and her brother would have, she’d used needles to release the darkness inside of her. She ran away and found herself squatting at a nearby zoo, where she found peace and acceptance around the animals. In the zoo, she met the zookeeper’s son, who in turn helped her hide from whomever was looking for her. But it doesn’t take long until her abusive brother finds her and the past that they were both running away from.

At 149 pages, this book was a little hard to take. I tend to stay away from angst-ridden books and ironically enough, I seemed to have hit the mother load in Fix Me. How do you even begin to help this character when you don’t exactly know the circumstances of the past that burdened her? The author made it obvious but really…not. Vague allusions, disjointed memories and nightmares – none of which gave me a concrete picture of what had happened to her. Truthfully, Leia and her brother Brian were probably the most broken characters I’ve ever read in my entire life.

I can say, in all honesty that this book didn’t warm my heart. It didn’t really offer any hope that Leia was healed and was ready to face the world without the comfort of the zoo. There were sensitive and harsh issues in this book that the author only alluded to. It had left me feeling frustrated because even though I know exactly what had happened, I wanted to read the ugly truth word for word. And I do understand that if the author had done exactly that, perhaps this book would never have passed as YA. But sometimes, if you want to be real…then just BE REAL. Tell us how it is and don’t beat around the bush.

I do think this novel was very insightful and moving. Leia’s gentle rapport with the animals made me feel happy of her connections with them. Goodness knows, human interactions were not her forte. The dead mother incited such anger in me even though she was not around in the novel as well, the aunt who seemed to be in an oblivion for the better part of the novel. The conflicting character was Brian, her brother. I didn’t get how he could be abusive and violent to his sister one moment then inexplicably ‘caring’ the next. Though caring might be a bit of an overstatement.

All in all, if you’re looking for a little dose of reality, Fix Me is the book for you. Get to know these characters; they’ll tell you what it’s like to lose faith in humanity.

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