Kirkus Book Review

Dubious affairs among a psychotherapist and a few of her patients put them all into a descent of emotional collapse and violence in Finkelstein's somber debut drama.

Dr. Mary Crawford is revered in the field of hypnotherapy. She regularly works in a group session with six teens fighting drug addictions. They;re making progress, until Dr. Crawford gets a couple of new patients: biker Karl Berber, who joins the group, and privately counseled Susie Vargas, a renowned brain surgeon's daughter who attempted suicide after her brutal rape. Karl inadvertently tempts David, a teen in the group, when the two visit Karl's biker pals, who habitually dabble in crack-David's drug of choice. Meanwhile, a possible mutual attraction between Crawford and David may take the doctor's attention away from an increasingly desperate Susie. Finkelstein's novel is devoted to the individual characters and their own accounts. It's comparable to a soap opera, epitomized by freebasing sibs Jeff and Valarie, who open the story and are the children of soap star Karen Campel. Finkelstein's writing gets straight to the point, often setting the time at the start of a new chapter-"late afternoon" or "twenty minutes later"-almost like stage directions. The sordid details come out in personal stories-e.g., Peter's abuse in prison-as the patients are in a hypnotic state. Karl ultimately takes over as protagonist, but the group sessions, with tales of debauchery and torment, are an effective build toward the decidedly more vicious final act in which one character seeks vengeance. Delivers the juicy morsels of a thriller without sacrificing characters rife with melodrama.

Kirkus Reviews



Drug use can seem fun and cool and grandiose and within moments the addict can go comatose. Most of us have been directly affected by substance abuse at some point in time. Either we have gone through our own personal issues with addiction, or someone we know and love has gone through it. Broken Flowers by Howard Finkelstein, illustrates the prevalence of addiction in our society and how it can turn a persons life upside down and in some cases end rather tragically.

 From the very first page i was hooked on the book. The story is based on true events and real people that Finkelstein knew making it all the more fascinating. It is based on a group of people in Los Angeles who suffered from the disease of alcholosim and drug addiction: Men and women, of all different ages,from various types of lifestyles. One common factor amongst each of these men and women was that they sought out treatment with the best addiction specialist in the area, "Dr.Crawford". The doctor specialized in hypnotherapy. Not only was she in expert in her field, she was very confident that her form of treatment could save the most severe type of addict,those dealing with some of the worst traumas one could imagine. "Dr. Crawford" embodied her career with grace and dignity and was the epitome of brains and beauty.

This story reveals a deep understanding of the disease addiction. Commonly, substance abuse is not merely a problem with someone not being able to stop using a substance, but rather, it can coexist with other serious conditions such as suicidology, depression, and delusional thinking. Broken Flowers presents the reader with several perspectives on addiction. From its presentation of the addict's perspective to the dedication and overwhelming task of being a doctor in this field, the reader is certain to feel connected with and emotionally invested in these characters. With twists and turns and a plot that connects all the characters to the one traumatic incident, you will not be able to put this book down.


Michelle Casillas

Manager, Blusss sober living house

Playa Del Rey, CA