Mary Not Broken by Deborah L. King

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Date of publication: October 10th, 2023

Genre: Fiction

Series: Glory

Glory Bishop—Book 1 (review here)

Glory Unbound—Book 2 (review here)

Mary Not Broken—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1930s Mississippi, Mary Johnson hates the oppressive heat, working on her family farm, and having to attend her minister father’s church several times a week. But she loves Mason Carter, her musician boyfriend. Both fantasize about living the high life up north in the big city.

When William Bevers, a wealthy old preacher, comes to court her, he promises a life of luxury along with money and status for her family. Mary wants nothing to do with him, but her parents decide for her. Determined to avoid a forced marriage, Mary elopes with Mason to the bright lights of Chicago.

But life up north is not the dream they expected. Multiple tragedies push Mary to the brink, and she soon returns home to the very world she tried so desperately to escape.

Too numb to stave off the pressure from her father, Mary considers accepting William’s proposal. But she soon realizes that life as the preacher’s wife might not provide the safety and security she craves.

First Line:

Hidden in the shadows of the front room hallway, fifteen year old Mary Johnson tugged at the front of her shirt and fanned the sweat that dripped down her chest.

Mary Not Broken by Deborah L. King

Important things you need to know about the book:

Mary Not Broken is the 3rd book in the Glory series. You can read this book as a standalone. This book explains how Mary morphed into the woman portrayed in the first two Glory books. Even though you can read this book at any point in the duology, I would recommend reading Mary Not Broken first and then Glory Bishop and Glory Unbound afterward.

Mary Not Broken alternated between medium and fast-paced. I had no issues with the pacing, but I did have to go back and reread paragraphs before certain events sunk in. But I blame that on being sick and unable to focus (thank you, Nightquil!!). There was a little lag towards the end between Mary leaving Mississippi and meeting Glory’s father. But, it did not affect how much I enjoyed the book.

There are trigger warnings in Mary Not Broken. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • Domestic Violence (on-page and graphic)
  • Abortion (on and off page)
  • Miscarriage (on and off page)
  • Infant Death (on and off page)
  • Teenage Marriage (on page)
  • Forced Marriage (on page)
  • Drug Use (off-page)
  • Drug Overdose (on page)
  • Child Death (on page)
  • Grief (on page)
  • Cheating (on page)

Sexual Content: There is sexual content in Mary Not Broken. But none of it is graphic. The author keeps it nondescriptive. It worked for me because if the sex scenes were explicit, it would have taken away from the storyline.

Language: There is foul language used in Mary Not Broken.

Setting: Mary Not Broken is set mainly in Mississippi, in the towns of Flora and Jackson. A couple of chapters are set in Harlem, New York, and the last half of the book is set in Chicago, Illinois.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Mary Johnson hates living in Flora, Mississippi. But what she hates even more is that her father has arranged her marriage to an older preacher. A strong-willed girl, Mary flees with her sweetheart to Chicago and then Harlem. But when a tragedy forces her home, Mary is again pressured to marry. Numb from what happened, Mary agrees to the marriage, only to find herself in a situation that becomes unbearable. Instead of breaking, Mary learns to bend and rely on only herself. Will Mary ever be free of her husband? Will she be able to live the life she wants? And, most importantly, will Mary have a child to love?

Main Characters

Mary Johnson: I read this book with a preconceived notion about Mary because of the previous two books. If you have read the Glory series, you understand what I am talking about and why I disliked her. But, as I read her story and saw what she went through, my dislike was tempered. Everything that happened to her (from the deaths of her first four children to Glory’s birth) tempered and shaped her into the woman she was in the first two books. I pitied her by the end of the book, and I understood her. But I could never like her.

Secondary characters: The secondary characters in Mary Not Broken were beautifully written. There were some that I couldn’t stand, others that annoyed me, and others that I liked. Each character adds their nuance and depth to the storyline.

My review:

Mary Not Broken was a good read. As I mentioned above, I went into this book not liking and not wanting to understand the main character. But, the author did an excellent job of writing this younger character of Glory’s mother in a way that I pitied and, to an extent, understood. The storyline was wonderfully written, and I enjoyed the recipes at the end.

The entire storyline centers on Mary and the years before she gave birth to Glory. The author was able to add depth to a character that I despised and was able to make me pity her. The author also showed that a strong-willed young woman can morph into the abusive mother portrayed in the Glory series. I almost didn’t want that transformation to happen, if I am going to be honest. I wanted Mary to heal from everything that happened to her.

The end of Mary Not Broken held so much hope and love. I almost wanted the author to rewrite the Glory series to what I glimpsed there. But, knowing what I know, it made me so sad to read what I read.

Many thanks to Deborah L. King for allowing me to read and review Mary Not Broken. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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