Little Broken Things: A Novel

Little Broken Things: A Novel

by Nicole Baart

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“If you liked Big Little Lies, you’ll want to crack open this new novel by Nicole Baart.” —Southern Living

“Steeped in menace, Baart’s latest is a race-to-the-finish family drama.” —People

An engrossing and suspenseful novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Amy Hatvany about an affluent suburban family whose carefully constructed facade starts to come apart with the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn's house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501133619
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 11/21/2017
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,787
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of eight previous novels, including Little Broken Things and The Beautiful Daughters. Learn more at

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Little Broken Things includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


From author Nicole Baart, whose writing has been called “gorgeously composed” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (RT Book Reviews), Little Broken Things is an absorbing and suspenseful story about two estranged sisters reunited by the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Little Broken Things explores motherhood in all its many forms. Tiffany and Liz are official parents, but Nora and Quinn also take on mothering roles in the book. What makes a good mother? Would you consider these women good mothers?

2. Liz is unlike the other characters in the novel. She’s old-fashioned, patriarchal, and even a little racist. How does she change throughout the book? What do you think prompts this change?

3. In the novel, Nora sacrifices a great deal for Tiffany and Everlee. Why do you think she does that? Would you have done the same in her position?

4. Remembering her late husband, Liz says: “Jack Sanford had not been a good man. True, he was steady and levelheaded and hardworking. He had made a way for himself in a world that favored the lucky, the people who were born with privilege and a place at the table. Jack Sr. had none of those things. But he took a small farmer’s inheritance and made something of it, built a legacy for his wife and kids and fought for it every day of his life. If he argued the validity of a bootstraps philosophy, it was only because he pulled himself up by them. A success story.” Do you feel that Jack’s challenges and determination in any way justify his actions?

5. Tiffany’s story is one of heartbreak and loss. She leaves because she believes her daughter will be better off without her. Is this act sacrificial or selfish? Do you agree with her decision?

6. Nora thinks of her sister as “perfect little Quinn.” In what ways does Quinn live up to that reputation? In what ways does she defy her sister’s expectations?

7. Why do you think Tiffany named her daughter Everlee?

8. Although Liz is loath to admit that she and Walker have some- thing in common, they are indeed both artists. Throughout the novel, what are some ways these two characters’ art influences their worldviews?

9. Who is your favorite character in Little Broken Things? Why? Is there a character you don’t like or don’t understand? Explain.

10. Why do you think Liz’s relationship with her daughters is so strained, and who—if anyone—is to blame? Do you have hope for them at the end of the book?

11. Throughout the novel, Everlee’s paternity is in question. How does the revelation of her real father affect your reading of the novel? Does it change your perspective of certain characters?

12. Toward the end of the novel, Liz tells Macy: “I think I have a God complex.” Do you agree that this affliction could apply to a multiple characters in Little Broken Things? If so, which ones?

13. At the end of the novel, Tiffany makes a very deliberate decision that ends in Donovan’s death. Is she a killer?

14. Walker names his sculpture Elizabeth Undone. Why do you think he does this? Is that an appropriate title for his piece?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Art plays an important role in Little Broken Things. Visit an art gallery with your book club, or if there is not one nearby, encourage book club members to share a picture of their favorite pieces of art.

2. Motherhood is a major theme in the novel, and many of us often forget how much sacrifice and love it requires. Take a moment today to thank your mother for the role she plays in your life. Send a card or flowers, or simply pick up the telephone. If your mother is no longer living, share a treasured memory of her with a friend or family member.

3. The Sanfords were known for their fabulous parties. Throw a party for your next book club meeting. Dress up, drink champagne, and enjoy some of the appetizers mentioned throughout Little Broken Things (e.g. endive stuffed with goat cheese and blood oranges; prosciutto-wrapped figs; or cherry tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil skewers).

4. Like Everlee, many children from broken homes find themselves in difficult situations and could use a little kindness and help. Make a donation of clothing, toys, or money to your state foster care organization or bring grocery items to your local food pantry. You never know the impact your gift may have on a child and his or her family!

Customer Reviews

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Little Broken Things: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good character development. The storyline kept twisting and turning. There were a few spots where the story needed some editing. The ending left me wondering who became the girl's parent.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Couldn't put the book down. First time I've read this author. I'll be looking for other books. Highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the relationship between the sisters and how it developed througout the book. There were afew twists and turns i didnt see coming.
Anonymous 18 days ago
Anonymous 26 days ago
Two2dogs 5 months ago
I did enjoy this book, loved the ending, this is a very human story.
LorrieThomson More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully flawed characters, twisty plot, and satisfying ending. I enjoyed every well-written page!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Two sisters are the heart of the book and after reading the synopsis I was ready for Quinn to tell the full story, but I was so pleasantly surprised when chapters from her sister Nora and her mother Liz appeared in the book. A book that focuses on sisters is usually a book that will get me hooked in the beginning. The sister relationship will always be a complicated one, two females and usually there are similarities and differences and those impact how each sister sees themselves, the other, the family, and the world. Its hard to see the world through someone who is similar and different and grew up in the same home that you did. I love when a book presents sisters as real - hard work and rewarding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a new favorite author to adore! I was immediately drawn into the story from the first pages. It is beautifully written and captivating, I was engaged by the mysterious texts from the start! I could imagine myself getting a text from my sister, "I have something for you" and immediate panic strikes! This is possibly not good! The story and characters are multi-layered and ultimately reveal their inner motivations that drive them to make decisions they will later question. I really enjoyed the different point of views as it gave me their perspective. The family is successful and lives in a small, quiet suburban neighborhood near a lake, but beyond the the outward appearance, secrets and past mistakes will threaten to change their lives forever. This story explores how one family members decision can snowball and entangle the entire family. Just how far would you go for a precious member of your family? Do you pull together or fall apart? I would highly recommend to fans of family based mysteries that reveal hidden secrets and motives that may have you asking yourself- What would I have done?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a family who has never been on the same page confronts its future while trying to reconcile its past, a little girl hangs in the balance. Nora, the oldest sister in the Sanford family has spent her entire life trying to separate herself from their antiquated ways but as her circumstances become dire she must rely on those she has kept at a distance. After losing her job and moving home to her mother’s guest house, younger sister, Quinn Cruz is settling into her role as wife and potential mother when her sister appears late at night with a mysterious child in tow. Without looking back, Nora leaves Quinn with the child and begs her not to tell anyone. Traumatized and silent, Quinn helps the girl as best she can but fails to keep her promise as she involves her mother. While all the women must revisit their pasts to align their futures the story is filled with drama and suspense as the reality of the child unravels and her safety lies in their hands. The story is written in short chapters, narrated by different characters, which keeps the story flowing. There are so many elements to the plot that it was a smart decision by Baart to give the reader different angles for the same story line. It was interesting to watch the events unfold when all of the women had different takes on the same situation. It was refreshing to see the different views because it helped the story from getting stagnant. Baart kept the explicit details to herself and only left the reader with implications, which made the events seem even worse. The scenarios were so well sculpted that you didn’t need the exact descriptions and your imagination kicked in. This smart decision by the author really helped ratchet up the suspense all the way to the end and the question of what is really happening remains. Fans of suspense and psychological thrillers alike will be flipping through the pages as quick as they can to find out what becomes of all of the Sanford women.
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: Children are not my specialty, but somewhere along the way I learned that they’re just like adults in one regard: they purr when petted just so. It feels wrong to use kindness as a tool, but I’m doing what I have to. The list of my weaknesses is long and varied, but none so great as my tendency to inertia. At the moments I most need to go, I find myself crippled and terrified. Damn it, Nora. She could be such a drama queen. A black hole of a woman, the kind of person who drew people to her dark gravity and sucked them in before they realized what was happening. Liz was a good, God-fearing woman and a regular at the First Reformed Church of Key Lake, but she wasn’t the quintessential parishioner. She was fond of Jesus, not so much his people. And they seemed to love Wal-Mart more than seemed strictly conventional. Anger and affection made awkward dance partners, and Quinn couldn’t decide whether she loved her sister in that moment or hated her just a little. My Review: I was immediately yanked into this intriguing and lushly written tale from the onset. I became an instant fan of this highly skilled and phenomenally talented author and now greedily want to read every word she has ever scribbled. Each character was uniquely quirky, cleverly devised, well fleshed out, and multifaceted. They were flawed, frustrating, endearing, exasperating, enticing and well-drawn, and I wanted to know every little thing about them. I was engrossed, totally engaged, intensely curious, and half-crazed to know all the secrets. Ms. Baart is a richly gifted wordsmith and kept me on edge, on the hook, deeply entrenched, and riveted to her richly detailed and tantalizing tale. I felt the urgency and was often taut with tension, my skin prickled in anticipation with so much left unsaid and lurking beneath the surface of this maddeningly paced and well-crafted story. The writing was superb, observantly insightful, and a treat. The plot was deviously crafted and densely populated with several cunningly devised subplots running in different directions while bending back at the same time, and all of which were deeply intriguing and lavishly detailed. In short, it was brilliant.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Nicole Baart, and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This is an excellent novel with interesting people, and various parenting parables with their pros and cons spelled out sharply. You have to appreciate Liz or at least understand her - she raised her chicks in a time that appreciated and almost demanded a stay-at-home mom. Tiffany, Nora, Quinn and even Amelia as modern mom's have a whole different set of values and requirements than their Mother's did - and a great deal more to deal with. Every community, even those as small and insular as Key Lake, Minnesota are, because of radio, television and internet, global communities also. Yes there are great benefits to having access to all that information. The disadvantages are legion, as well. Nicole Baart lays this all out for us, and then stirs in the benefits of stalwart will and a firm sense of responsibility and the emotional strength of these women, to bring forth an alternate universe. And we want all of that for Everlee. We need for her to be whole and complete, not one of these little broken things.
Chris721 More than 1 year ago
This book kept me up late into the night needing to finish. At the heart of the book is a broken family. It is told by 3 different women, Quinn the little sister who is married to Walker, Nora the wild middle child who ran away from home right after graduation, and Liz their mom. Nora who is estranged from her family, sends Quinn a text that she is bringing her something to keep safe. When Nora arrives, it is Lucy a quiet little girl, Quinn has to keep safe. Nora won't tell Quinn a thing about Lucy, who she is or who she needs to keep her safe from. Add in Tiffany, Nora's best friend, and Tiffany's very scary boyfriend, it is a story that you need to keep reading to figure out all the secrets in this family. Can the women come together and protect Lucy who is counting on all 3 of them? It is a story of family, of love of family, and the things one will do to protect their family. Thank you very much to Nicole Baart, NetGalley, and Atria Books for providing me an ARC in return for an honest review.
lauriesophee More than 1 year ago
This book grabs your attention right from the start and doesn't let go until the last page. It's a story of three women, a mother and her two grown daughters who live very emotionally detached from each other. They find love and togetherness when they are forced to share a fearsome difficulty. The action moves along briskly with plenty of suspense and uncertainty. Nevertheless the three spend a great amount of time in private introspection, reflecting on the choices of their past life, and regretting some of these choices. Ultimately they come to realize that no matter how broken things become, "life does go on." Excellent novel! Well written!
teachlz More than 1 year ago
I am left with many thoughts as I finish “Little Broken Things” “A Novel” by Nicole Baart, Atria Books, November 2017. The timeline of this story is within the last 5 years, and the setting is mostly in a small town by the lake. The Genres for this story are mostly Fiction, and Mystery and Suspense. The author describes her characters as complex, complicated and dysfunctional. I do appreciate that the author describes certain problems that we see in society today. Quinn Basset is surprised when her estranged sister, Nora arranges to meet her with a cryptic message, “I have something for you.” Nora’s “something” turns out to be not only a tremendous surprise, but Quinn’s family now is in terrible danger. Nora’s surprise is a little girl named Lucy who looks just like Nora. As soon as Nora leaves Lucy, she quickly departs. Lucy is extremely withdrawn and frightened. Nora had wanted Quinn to keep Lucy a secret from their Mother, who lives across the lake, and from everyone else. Why is Nora leaving a little girl that looks just like her with her sister? Can you imagine a six-year-old being abandoned, and not knowing why? Why is there all kinds of danger imminent? How will Quinn and the rest of the family deal with this situation? Both Quinn and Nora have grown up quite comfortably, but in an extremely dysfunctional family. Their father is now deceased, and Liz their mother can either be too laid back or too aggressive. The story moves slowly, but there is some intrigue, suspense and mystery. Nicole Baart discussed the role of family, especially mother, sisters, and daughters. What exactly is a good mother? …a good sister?…..a good daughter? The author discusses the importance of family, trust, love, support, self-worth, and hope. I appreciate that the author talks about such issues in society today , as rape, pedophiles, physical and emotional abuse of women and children, neglected and abandoned children, and family problems and entitlement. These are issues that can’t be neglected or pushed away. Yet, they do exist. After reading “Little Broken Things”, I have many thoughts. I would like to thank NetGalley, Atria Books, Nicole Baart, and the Great Thoughts,Great Readers Ninjas for an ARC for my honest opinion and review. I would recommend this novel for those readers that enjoy reading a suspenseful read.