Just like eggs, human hearts can be broken into pieces. “The Science of Breakable Things” by Korean-American writer Tae Keller is a touching novel that depicts the pain of being broken.
A 12-year-old girl, the main character, plans to enter an egg drop competition. It is an interesting contest for sixth to eighth graders to foster their scientific potential. Winners should drop an egg from the third floor without breaking it. The girl’s mother would been happy to help her in the past, but things have changed now. She has been suffering from depression for the past several months. To the girl, it feels like the mother she knew has gone and someone else has taken her place. The girl thinks her mother abandoned her, looking at the expressionless face. It would be nice to candidly talk about this to someone and cry about it, but she takes everything in. That is how she inherits depression from her mother.
The girl wants to win. She plans to go to New Mexico and buy cobalt blue orchids with the prize money. It is an illusion, but it feels like the flower would heal the depression. But her egg breaks and her plan goes down the drain. However hard she tried, she was not able to keep the egg from breaking. But the girl and her mother start to get over their depression as if her eagerness was responded.
There are broken pieces in every life. “Hearts and eggs will break but you keep going anyway,” she says. The girl buys a Christmas gift “Korean fire” for her mom, which is a camellia tree that blooms in snowy winter. Just like it, humans bloom the fire of life even when they are broken. The flower may be all the more beautiful because of hardships it suffered. The author is a daughter of Nora Okja Keller who won the American Book Award with “Comfort Woman.” Unlike the mother who painfully stares into the pain of the past, the daughter has eyes that warmly look into the pain.