Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review of 'Fractured, Not Broken (A Memoir)' by Kelly Schaefer with Michelle Weidenbenner

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Fractured-KINDLEA Real Life Story of Heroic Virtue

Parts of this memoir appeared on ESPN and in Rosie

Warsaw, Indiana
July 08, 2015

Award-winning and best-selling author, Michelle Weidenbenner, announces the release of Kelly Schaefer’s memoir, Fractured Not Broken.

Years ago, parts of Kelly’s story appeared on ESPN and in Rosie, but now Kelly reveals the rest of the story in her new book, Fractured Not Broken.

Nineteen-year-old Kelly had it all—a healthy and athletic body, a star basketball-player boyfriend, and a fun college life with close friends.

But everything changed when a drunk driver rendered her a quadriplegic.

Kelly was left with arms and legs that couldn’t move. She couldn’t walk, write, feed herself or comb her hair. When she thought she couldn’t lose anything more—her boyfriend left her, unwilling to endure a life with a quad.

Through her darkest days of loss and pain, her family and community gathered together to push her forward, to help her persevere. With their help, Kelly moved closer to God and toward a faith she’d never had.

“Miracles come in many obscure moments,” Kelly said. “I spent most of my life awaiting my big break. I expected my miracle to be in the form of a pill, injection, or surgery that would enable my spine to heal and give me the mobile freedom I prayed for, but that didn’t happen.

Kristen Jongen’s quote says it all:
“‘My miracle came unannounced, and in an odd package. It looked different from what I imagined--untimely, unexpected, unpretentious--yet it fit perfectly. Divinely constructed solely for me.’"

Fractured Not Broken is a memoir of loss and faith, but it’s also a love story that sounds like fiction.

“Life has its tragic moments of defeat, setbacks, and fracturing for everyone. Kelly's story proves, however, that individual momentum, personal progress, and genuine achievement can still be attained. Her courage and optimism are uplifting. Open these pages and experience the joy of ultimate victory.” —Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, Author of Jesus in All Four Seasons

“This book has been a true encouragement to me. Thank you Kelly for sharing your story— the loss and the unexpected joy— so that each reader can be uplifted knowing there is a full, rich life available to those who lean in to our Lord Jesus.” —Renee Bondi, Award-Winning Singer and Songwriter

“This is a real life story of heroic virtue—especially of courage, humility, and generosity—a triumph of faith, hope and love. This story involves the very essence of the human spirit, family, and community. To know Kelly and her journey of miracles is to know that with God all things are possible.” —Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson Bishop of Evansville

This book will fracture the paradigms of the goals and expectations we set for ourselves and others. Kelly’s words will change how readers think of people with disabilities and bring hope to readers who have lost faith in finding true love. Weidenbenner’s other novels include Cache a Predator, Scattered Links, and an early chapter book series for girls called ├ëclair.

Kelly is a teacher, speaker, Young Life mentor and a Skittles lover. She brings fun to her classroom and inspires others every day with her faith and positive attitude.
Michelle, her aunt, feels blessed to be the one to write and share Kelly’s story. Although this is Michelle’s first nonfiction project, it was heart-felt inspired like her novels.

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**My thoughts**

You never know what you are going to get with a memoir. Some are well-written; others, not so much. I have read most of Michelle Weidenbenner's fiction, though, so I was willing to give this one a shot. It was well worth every moment.

Most of the story is told from Kelly's point of view. She feels free to let all of her emotions and thoughts pour out: the good, the bad, and the ugly. You get a very good sense of how she was feeling with every triumph and every pitfall along the way. Her story is so heartbreaking. I cannot even begin to fathom being out with friends one minute, and being a quadriplegic the next. To have all of those dreams shattered. And it isn't just her life that is affected. Her whole family. Her boyfriend. Her friends. The driver. The other passengers. That man's one bad decision cost so many people so much.

It's no wonder that her faith was so strongly tested. If I had faith like that, mine would also be tested. She comes back to it, slowly but surely, as she struggles to reclaim her life. Her stubbornness and determination to do something with her life in spite of all of her challenges is incredible. Where most people would shut down, she somehow found the strength to open herself back up. 

I'm not saying that the whole back is happy go-lucky and that Kelly is riding around on magical rainbows. It's actually quite sad. There's a true roller coaster ride along her journey. Not all of it is pleasant. You're going to get choked up, if not completely crying, through many parts of the story, both happy and sad. You're going to feel frustrated and inspired. It could also force you to take a good look at yourself in the mirror. If a quadriplegic can do all of this, why can't you?

I also loved how Kelly challenges you to look differently at people with disabilities. I have friends in wheelchairs. I have friends with other special needs, or perhaps their children have special needs. I teach young children, many of whom have special needs. But every time you hear about life from the point-of-view of a disabled person, it challenges your thoughts and actions. You think you are starting to understand, but really you can't. She provides another voice that needs to be heard.

A good share of the book focuses on Kelly's relationship with God. Some people may be turned off by some of this, but it is an essential part of her story. It also isn't preachy. She isn't telling you that you need to join this church NOW to get yourself healed. She is simply sharing how her relationship impacted her journey. Whether or not you have a strong relationship with God, I think you can get a lot out of Kelly's story. It's well-written. It's interesting. It's emotional. It's just good.

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