Break Me Like a Promise: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

*Break Me Like a Promise is the second book in Schmidt’s Once Upon a Crime Family series which begins with Hold Me Like a Breath. This review features spoilers for book one*

Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany SchmidtMagnolia Vickers has spent years convincing her father and the other Family men that she is much more than a decorative young woman destined to spend her life on the periphery of their Business in illegal organ trafficking.

After a staggering loss, the future Maggie has been planning as her father’s successor is precarious at best. Worse, Maggie’s recent behavior has ruined her carefully constructed reputation with almost everyone in the Family–not to mention her parents.

Maggie is forced to set her grief and loneliness aside when a computer virus brings trouble to the Family. When Alex, the computer expert hired to fix the virus, brings his demands for a new kidney to the Family he quickly becomes Maggie’s problem.

As she learns more about Alex and the changing legislation, Maggie realizes that Alex can be more to her than a source of constant frustration–a lot more. But first Maggie will have to use everything she’s learned about the Family Business to help them move forward in a world with legalized organs and make sure Alex survives long enough to get his new kidney in Break Me Like a Promise (2016) by Tiffany Schmidt.

Find it on Bookshop.

Break Me Like a Promise is the second book in Schmidt’s Once Upon a Crime Family series which begins with Hold Me Like a Breath. This novel features a different narrator and is set months after the events of book one. Although it contains spoilers for the first book in the series, it largely functions as a contained story. In this unconventional retelling, Schmidt incorporates elements from “The Frog Prince” into her unique world where organ transplants are illegal.

Given the premise (fairy tale retellings with organized crime!), I always knew this series was going to become one of my favorites. I wasn’t surprised when I enjoyed reading about Penny in Hold Me Like a Breath and I wasn’t surprised when I realized Break Me Like a Promise was easily one of my most highly anticipated 2016 titles.

Some reading experiences are more personal than others and such was the case here. Schmidt completely surpassed my expectations with her careful plotting and thoughtful writing. Every single piece of Break Me Like a Promise matters and every piece works to make the whole even more powerful.

The thing that really shines in this novel are the characters–especially Maggie. I identified a lot with Maggie and was deeply affected by her journey in this novel. That (along with the stellar plot and writing) is what made Break Me Like a Promise a standout novel for me.

I’ve talked before about hitting a rough patch a couple of years ago. I wrote a guest post about that overwhelming feeling of being in over my head and feeling lost. I even talked about seeing some of that struggle mirrored in a different book. I’ve started thinking of that time as triage because I was just going day-to-day and trying to get through because it was too hard and too scary to try and think further ahead.

Things are better now. Things are actually good. But while I was reading Break Me Like a Promise and watching Maggie work through the initial shock and grief of Carter’s death, I realized that I had been holding onto a lot of my stress and anxiety and mindsets from those bad years. I’m often too hard on myself and don’t treat myself very well as a result. I keep asking myself, “What else can go wrong? What if something happens?” It’s easy to think that once a traumatic event is over, that’s the end. It’s time to move on. But recovery–even for the person who was physically fine throughout, like me–doesn’t work that way. I have realized that I don’t remember who I was before my rough patch. I don’t know who I could be moving forward. I lost track of that somewhere.
My situation isn’t at all like Maggie’s but I identified so much with her throughout Break Me Like a Promise. It’s incredibly moving and powerful to watch Maggie’s growth during her story arc and to see her make sense of herself without Carter and as she makes her way in the world.
I recommend this series to fans of fairy tale retellings as well as sleek mysteries like White Cat or Heist Society.
Break Me Like a Promise is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year and it’s also one I needed badly. I don’t think words can ever truly convey how much this book means to me but I hope the words in this review might convince you to check out Break Me Like a Promise for yourself. This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt broken and wondered how to be anything else; for the people who have moved on and for the people who are still trying to find their way. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, White Cat by Holly Black, Strings Attached by Judy Blundell, Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, Heist Society by Ally Carter, The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty, It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble, Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan, Vicious by V. E. Schwab, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff, All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Be sure to check out my interview with Tiffany about the book starting tomorrow!

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

June 2016 Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in May.

Books Read:

  1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  2. The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
  3. Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein
  4. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  5. Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard
  6. The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen
  7. The Swan Riders by Erin Bow
  8. Breaker by Kat Ellis
  9. And I Darken by Kiersten White

Books On Deck: 0!

Books Bought:

  1. Everland by Wendy Spinale (Owlcrate Steampunk box selection!)
  2. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne (bookoutlet)
  3. Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu (bookoutlet and also replacing a copy I gave away and have since regretted letting go)
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Rifle Paper Co edition I’d been coveting for two years that was on sale at Bookoutlet)
  5. Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows

Gifted Books: 

  1. The Queen of the Tearling 
  2. Reign of Shadows

ARCs Received: 0

Related: Follow my progress with my BEA 2016 books.

June 1: My books on deck selection is wildly ambitious but I’m just going to pretend it will all work out. La!

June 7: I’m having reader fatigue so I kind of threw my books on deck out the window and going for some whim reading.

June 9: Guybrarian B at work has pointed out that I have started adding “read” books on here before I actually finish them so from now on I am going to resist that temptation.

June 17: Feeling back on track with my reading and like I’ve balanced out most of my pressing obligations with things I wanted to get to personally. Onward! Next up: The Swan Riders and omg I had missed Talis (and Greta) so much.

June 17: LATER I can’t actually process tracking books as I finish so just know from now on that I add books to my “books read” heading as I start them. La!

June 25: I started this month feeling behind on books. Which is absurd. But I feel much more in control now so that’s good. I also bought FIVE books this month. Don’t look at me.