THE FRAGILE WORLD

Paula Treick DeBoard

From the author of the publishing sensation The Mourning Hours comes a powerful new novel that explores every parent’s worst nightmare.

The Kaufmans always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at the local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything. Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a “freak”

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From the author of the publishing sensation The Mourning Hours comes a powerful new novel that explores every parent’s worst nightmare.

The Kaufmans always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at the local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything. Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a “freak” road accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief.

The anguish of loss is isolating, and it’s not long before this once-perfect family falls apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong.

An emotionally charged novel, The Fragile World is a journey through America’s heartland and a family’s brightest and darkest moments, exploring the devastating pain of losing a child and the beauty of finding healing in unexpected ways.

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  • Harlequin MIRA
  • Paperback
  • November 2014
  • 432 Pages
  • 9780778316763

Buy the Book

$14.95

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About Paula Treick DeBoard

Paula Treick DeBoard lives with her husband, Will, and their brood of four-legged creatures in Modesto, California. She received a BA in English from Dordt College, and MFA in Creative Writing from the university of Southern Maine and a practical education from countless students in her English classes over the years.

Praise

“Assured storytelling propels Deboard’s first novel.”

Publishers Weekly

“Rich and evocative…compelling.”

RT Book Reviews

Discussion Questions

Was it surprising that Kathleen was able to move on with her life while Curtis couldn’t seem to move past his anger? What causes parents to react differently to tragedies in their family?

Would you be able to forgive a person who caused serious injury or death to a loved one—even if that act was unintentional?

Robert Saenz, although a fictional character, could be all too real. Curtis believes the judicial system has failed where Robert Saenz is concerned. What might be an appropriate punishment for an action—however unintentional—that has such deadly consequences?

Curtis doesn’t seem to believe he could ever cause harm to Olivia or Kathleen, although of course his actions could have a devastating effect on their lives, as well. Does this lack of awareness come from a callousness or insensitivity to others, or is he simply blind to everything but his desire for revenge?

Consider Olivia’s many fears throughout the book. Do these fears seem like a natural reaction to her circumstances, or a sign of a more serious issue? In what ways can fear affect a person?

Why does Kathleen take more responsibility than she deserves for what happens at the end of the book? Why doesn’t Curtis intervene and publicly take responsibility?

When Curtis and Olivia say “Love…Eventually” at the end of the book, do you believe them? Can things work out for the Kaufmans, moving forward?