cover image Bones Worth Breaking: A Memoir

Bones Worth Breaking: A Memoir

David Martinez. MCD, $18 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-3746-1095-1

Martinez’s immersive debut chronicles his tumultuous early life and the bond he shared with his late younger brother, Mike. The boys’ family moved often across the U.S., Brazil, and Puerto Rico, before settling in a small Idaho Mormon community, where their mixed-race household stood out—their mother was half Black, half Indigenous; their father was white and adopted by Mexican parents who raised him Mormon. Early on, the brothers learned to avoid or repress discomfort: when Martinez was caught “playing doctor” with a neighbor girl, his father told him he was “making Jesus cry”; when he and Mike began to sustain cuts and broken bones from skateboarding, they hid their wounds to avoid a fuss. “Fear ruled our household,” Martinez recalls. “Fear of mistakes, fear of anger, fear of god.... Fear of letting others down.” By the time the boys entered middle school, both began using drugs as an escape from the severity and coldness of their home life. In late adolescence, their paths split: Martinez attended various colleges and embarked on a mission to Brazil, while Mike’s opiate use worsened and he became homeless. Then, in 2021, after Martinez began writing the memoir, Mike died of sepsis in prison, and Martinez resolved to confront through therapy the lifelong saudade (Portuguese for a “feeling of absence”) that plagued both brothers. The author revitalizes well-worn themes of racism, addiction, and religious trauma with his sense of urgency and vivid language. This marks Martinez a writer to watch. Agent: Mariah Stovall, Trellis Literary. (Apr.)