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According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing. Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her. Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death
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According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.
Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.
Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.
And now it is.
Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.
And she’s not giving up so easily.
A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.
“Other Breakable Things” absolutely wrecked me- it’s a beautiful and heartwrenching story about Evelyn and Luc. The book begins when Evelyn returns to town after leaving Arizona, where she and her mother lived with her mother’s boyfriend. Her best friend, Luc, has not been great about staying in... ...more
Three years ago, a terrible accident for a girl saved Luc's life and provided him with a much needed heart to prolong his life. Now, he finds out the heart is starting to fail and so he needs another transplant. Yet after the anguish of waiting before, he's now contemplating euthanasia, so he can... ...more
A gorgeous book that reminds us to live our life to the fullest and love to until your heart is full. ...more
Showing 1 to 3 of 3
4.78 avg Goodreads.com rating
About the author
Kelley York is the author of HUSHED and SUICIDE WATCH. She was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a fascination with bells, adores all things furry - be them squeaky, barky or meow-y - is a lover of video games, manga and anime, and likes to pretend she's a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid. Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers, paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character development takes center stage.
Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of Hushed, Made of Stars, and Modern Monsters, and Other Breakable Things is Rowan’s debut.
The rain is coming down in sheets. It has reduced visibility by 50 percent, but damn if it doesn’t make for great mood lighting for two people driving down the freeway near midnight with only the glow of the dashboard for company. Every now and then a streak of lightning foreshadows the boom of thunder that follows. It makes him jump, which in turn makes her smile. She’s aware of this little-known secret of his, that he hates the sound of thunder, or fireworks on the Fourth of July.
She asks if he wants her to drive, not for the first time. He rolls his eyes and laughs. “I’m not letting a little rain scare me out of the driver’s seat.” But the fact that she offers makes him smile, because she’s always thoughtful like that.
He removes a hand from the wheel, extends it in her direction, and she places her small palm against his and locks their fingers together.
The next strike of lightning illuminates the moving truck veering into their lane.
The thunder that follows mutes the sound of metal on metal as the truck drives the smaller car off the road and into the muddy embankment, and no one’s brakes do anything on the rain-slicked asphalt.
When they finally slide to a messy stop, no one moves.
The air is filled with smoke. Not from the engine—but from the airbags. His throat burns, ears ringing. The truck’s horn is going off and won’t stop. He can’t see the other driver.
Instead he looks over at her, his whole world, and realizes the passenger’s side airbag didn’t deploy.
(3 years ago)
Mom bursts in like a hurricane, slamming on lights and cracking her knee against the dresser. She swears loudly. I’m instantly awake, blinking bleary-eyed into the sudden onslaught of brightness.
“What the hell?”
“Get up, get dressed,” she whispers, as though there’s anyone she’s going to disturb with a normal voice, and like she wasn’t being loud enough already. Her hair is still twisted up into a messy bun that she’d never be caught dead with out of the house. “Your dad’s waiting downstairs. Jesus, I still have to change…”
I sit up and swing my legs out of bed. Mom pulls jeans and a T-shirt from my closet and throws them onto the bed beside me. Ordinarily I’d be worried, but this energy she’s giving off doesn’t feel like that of an emergency or anything bad. “Mom? What’s going on?”
She stops at the door. Turns. Smiles brightly at me. There’s a nervous edge to it, though. “There was an accident. Pileup on the freeway. One of the girls was pronounced brain-dead and she’s an organ donor.”
All of a sudden, I want to throw up what little I ate for dinner. Shit. “Why are you happy about that? Someone’s dead.”
That makes her smile falter, but only briefly. “The surgeons want you brought in immediately and prepped for surgery, Luc. You’re getting your new heart.”
Mom says falling in love is the most incredible thing in the world. She would know; she’s done it as many times as I am years old. Sometimes they’re weeklong whirlwind romances, flings with soldiers who come into town during an off-duty stint, who promise to write after they leave and never do. Sometimes they’re a married firefighter who calls things off after he decides he and his wife really need to work it out. Mom takes every one of these relationships—and breakups—very seriously.
To be fair, for a while even I was pretty convinced Robert was the one who would last. It started out as many of Mom’s relationships did, and I thought it would end the same as all the others, too. Except this time, Mom came home to Grandma Jane’s late one night, gently shook me awake, and said in an excited whisper, “C’mon, Evelyn. We’re getting out of here.” This was new. This was different. I went into it thinking, hoping, that Robert might be some missing piece to our family dynamic.
Oh God, how wrong I was.
Three years. That’s a long time for a woman who normally doesn’t have a relationship beyond three months. Yet here we are back at square one, with our suitcases in hand in Grandma Jane’s living room, and she’s sighing as she shakes her head. “Go on, then. Get unpacked.”
That’s that. Three years in a podunk town in Arizona, and now we’re back in California. Back in Fresno. It’s like no time has passed at all.
Grandma wanted me to go back to public school. “A seventeen-year-old girl should be making friends,” she insists. “Going to prom and all that.”
A few years ago I might have agreed with her. But it’s not like I have any friends here, and with it being halfway through senior year already, I really don’t think I’m going to be making any. Online independent study has gotten me through the last three years just fine, and I don’t see why I can’t let it carry me the rest of the way.
Besides, back then, I’d always thought when I went to prom, Luc would be the boy at my side.
There are things I missed about this stupid town, though. The movie theater where Luc and I spent a lot of our weekends, for instance. We’d start out bright and early in the morning, hitting up whatever movie was playing first. When it ended, we slipped into our respective bathrooms, gave it fifteen minutes, and met back up to sneak with the crowds into the next movie. We never did get caught.
There’s also the mall, the park, Emperor’s Pizza Palace that does karaoke every Tuesday night. We always went but never sang. It was more fun to sit in the back with a pizza between us and watch everyone else, laughing to each other over the horrible singers and commending the occasional decent one. We were both good at that. At watching.
All the things I missed about California are Luc-centric. Which makes sense, I guess. I mean, it wasn’t like I really had any other friends. Neither did he. The difference being…I think Luc could have made friends if he’d ever wanted to, but I was awkward and shy and no girls—or guys, for that matter—my age really took any notice of me.
Our second day back in Fresno, just for kicks, I drive by the high school. I was only there for six months before we moved, but obviously it’s fresher in my memory than middle school. Students are running laps out on the track, so school must be in session. If the bell schedule hasn’t changed, they’ll be going to lunch in about fifteen minutes.
I see the bleachers Luc and I used to hide behind when we ditched classes, when I got overwhelmed and just wanted to be away from everyone. It didn’t matter what class Luc was supposed to be in; he always went with me.
As I’m heading home, I take a detour into one of the much nicer neighborhoods, only a few blocks from mine. I stop at the curb in front of a large, beautiful two-story house that might be a different color than I remember. Maybe they had it painted.
Unless he’s moved. Which is a possibility. Or his parents still live here and Luc himself is off on his own somewhere. His family has the money for things like that, and Luc would’ve turned nineteen two months ago, old enough to have his own place.
I’m psyching myself out, I realize. Trying to come up with excuses to not approach and knock. The driveway is empty, but that doesn’t mean anything; they could park in the garage for all I know.
What would I say to Luc if he answered, anyway? Hey, thanks for being a shitty friend when I left! Somehow I don’t think that would end well, and it wouldn’t make me feel any better.
But there’s no denying how much I’ve missed him. How much I want to hear his voice, see his face…
I also don’t want to be the one to initiate it. It feels like I’ve chased after Luc for the last three years, trying to get him to talk to me, to keep in touch. The number of nights I spent crying myself to sleep over it borders on ridiculous.
After sitting and debating for a while, I twist around to rummage in the backseat, which still contains a few boxes Mom and I haven’t unpacked yet. I find a scrap of paper and begin folding. When I was little, Mom took me to a bookstore and let me pick out a book of my choice. I found myself drawn to one on origami, and it started a lifelong love of creating life out of a single piece of paper. I leave the crane I create on Luc’s doorstep. When—if—he sees it, he’ll know that it’s me. And if he wants to see me, really wants to see me, he’ll do it.
As I’m driving home, I can’t shake the looming sense of hopelessness that he won’t.
Mom hasn’t left her room all day, Grandma says. Go figure. She takes a casserole out of the oven and I bring a plate of it upstairs. Mom has not, in fact, gotten out of bed, and her eyes are bleary as she stares at the old TV with its fuzzy picture of basic cable. Grandma would never invest in anything more than that.
She lifts her head to look at me and manages a smile. “Hey, baby girl.”
I wish I could tell Mom that we dodged a bullet with Robert. That I’m glad we left. That I don’t know how much longer I could have handled living under the same roof as him, and that even the thought of him makes my stomach twist into unbearable knots. I bite the thoughts back, though, because the last thing I need to try to explain to her are my own issues and how badly I want to leave Arizona and Robert as a distant memory.
“Hungry?” I set the plate on her nightstand even as she’s waving it off.
“Bah, I can smell the onions. Mama likes to make that crap to spite me. She knows I won’t eat it.” Mom sighs, rolling onto her back. “C’mon over and sit with me a bit. You were gone for a while. Have a good day?”
I crawl into bed beside her, drawing my knees up to my chest. “It was fine.” My default answer for everything. Mom was always so stressed or unhappy that I never wanted to tell her when school was hard, or when I was lonely because I didn’t know how to make friendships last, or when I fell in love with a boy named Luc and she made me leave him behind so she could chase after Robert.
So…fine. It’s a safe word. Not good, not great, but things could be worse and therefore it isn’t a lie.
“You’re always good.” She chuckles, lifting a cool hand to brush the dark hair back from my face. “I swear. One day you were my baby, and then I turned around and you had grown up. When did that happen?”
I just smile. I settle down with her to watch TV in silence and wonder what it means that when I say fine, she always hears the words I’m specifically not saying. Like good.
Is she really listening?
Grocery day is Dad’s favorite day. Or at least, it would be if I didn’t usually go with him.
Dad’s been in immaculate shape for as long as I can remember. Broad-shouldered, solid but not overweight. He isn’t some muscle-head but he does work out, keeps himself healthy. Exercises enough that he can grab a bag of chips and a quart of ice cream with a big, cheesy smile on his face. His diet consists of whatever I want so long as I burn off the calories later.
My diet consists of caloric restrictions, low sodium, low cholesterol, low carbs, low salt, and low fat. Basically, low everything that tastes good.
Going shopping together means Dad picking out foods he loves, while I’m reading over labels to make sure I’m getting things I’m supposed to actually be eating. When we’re shopping together, though, I see him hesitate with his choices, stealing glances at me as though he feels guilty. Half the time, he puts his food back. Which makes me feel like crap. Other people shouldn’t have to suffer just because my body is stupid.
I’ve stuck rigorously to the diet the nutritionists suggested. For all the fucking good it’s done.
When we get home, Dad hoists all but two small bags into his arms. I grab the remaining two, shut the tailgate to his pickup, and follow. I find him standing on the porch, stepping back a few inches to look at something at his feet. “What’s that?”
I unlock the door for him before stooping down to pick it up. The moment I’m close enough, I instantly recognize it.
An origami bird.
Only one person in all the world would leave something like this on my doorstep. Seeing it, holding it, might be the first time I’ve felt like I could breathe freely in months, while constricting my chest painfully at the same time.
Evelyn’s back in town.
When she moved to Arizona, she wrote me damned near every day at first. I wrote back once a week. Her emails tapered off to once a week, mine went bi-weekly. As of this exact moment, I haven’t written to her in nearly four months and I have four emails sitting read and not responded to in my inbox.
It had nothing to do with her.
That is, it isn’t because I didn’t want to keep in better contact. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her. I liked getting every email she sent—at the time, she didn’t have her own cell phone so we were restricted to writing—but I never knew what to write back. With her gone, I did a whole lot of nothing. When you cut out my transplant and the extensive recovery process that followed, I really didn’t have a lot to talk about.
Besides, what sense would it have made? I was sick. I am sick. A new heart didn’t change that. Evelyn didn’t need that kind of shit in her life. I never should have let her get close in the first place because it made her leaving all that much harder. My hopes for Evelyn after she moved had been for her to live a happy family life and meet some nice guy who could give her everything and treat her the way she deserved. She was smart, she was beautiful, she was kind; if she would realize that, she’d have no problems meeting people who would love her the way I do. And I—well. I might be six feet under by that point.