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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
The Broken Violin is a new adult coming-of-age story written by Owen Kortz. Shel Henka is a cinema-loving teenager studying at the University of California, Berkeley, whose dream is to screen her own film at the San Francisco International Film Festival. In her freshman year at college, she enters into her first intimate relationship with a young man named Jeremy. But the abrupt end of the relationship sends Shel into a depressive spiral, alienating her from her friends and family and affecting her grades in class. However, feeling inspired by the music classes with Mr. Talaigh, Shel delves deep into the life story of Hollywood actress Shelley Winters and sets out to make a documentary film on her life. With the help of her friend Charlie, Shel aims to become one of the three winners of the short film contest.
Author Owen Kortz weaves an absorbing yarn about growing up in college while navigating friends, family, and studies. The Broken Violin portrays the influential years of college that are filled with friendships, romance, and heartbreak. It also showcases how those formative years shape the pursuits of one's dreams and later life. The characters feel relatable and well-realized. Shel is a compelling protagonist whose dreams and struggles form the backbone of the narrative. I especially enjoyed the parallels between the transformation of Shel from a naive teenager to a confident young woman chasing her dreams and her idol, Shelley Winters. I think young adult and new adult fans will find The Broken Violin very appealing. Highly recommended.