Break in Case of Emergency
Dads can be such a dragLife has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. She keeps even her closest friend, the brash but endearing Trisha, at arms’ length, and recently ended her first relationship, with Trisha’s burnout brother, Mike. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain.But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent.When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up. While she may not follow an expected path, through the support of a quirky but lovable circle of friends and family, Toby may finally put together the many different pieces that make up her past, her present, and her future.

Break in Case of Emergency Details

TitleBreak in Case of Emergency
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 17th, 2019
PublisherHarperCollins
ISBN-139781443457712
Rating
GenreLGBT, Contemporary, Young Adult, Cultural, Canada

Break in Case of Emergency Review

  • Madeline Nixon
    January 1, 1970
    What a beautiful book. What a beautiful book. I legitimately just want to write that over and over again as my review. This was an incredibly well done book on suicide, mental illness, acceptance, family ties, love, and reconciliation. From the prose, to artistic choices in chapter breaks, to Toby’s story - everything was beautiful. (Thank you to HarperCollins for the ARC. All opinions are mine.)
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    "Dads can be such a drag" true dat
  • Nadya
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion. This review originally appeared on Pop of Geek I’m going to break a few rules for this review. I’ve contemplated how to review Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis as objectively as possible, but I’ve concluded that whatever I would come up with by doing so would just be dishonest.Break in Case of Emergency is possibly the closest I’ve seen my own life represented in the/>Break Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion. This review originally appeared on Pop of Geek I’m going to break a few rules for this review. I’ve contemplated how to review Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis as objectively as possible, but I’ve concluded that whatever I would come up with by doing so would just be dishonest.Break in Case of Emergency is possibly the closest I’ve seen my own life represented in the pages of a book. Days after finishing this book, I’m still astounded by the similarities between Toby and I – and by how aptly Francis captured feelings and experiences that are very personal to me. It felt as though Francis reached inside my teenage diary and jostled all the pain points free. It was a difficult, but necessary reading experience for me. I’m so glad this book exists.Five years after her mom dies by suicide, Toby receives the news that the father she never knew is returning to the small Ontario town where she lives with her grandparents. Before she meets her father, Toby learns that not only is her father gay, but he is also a world-famous female impersonator (he does not want to be called a drag queen). She adds these facts to the small collection of things she knows about her dad: that he loved her mom, that he was a wonderful entertainer, and that, in her mom’s words: “He. Was. Magic.”While the central thread of Break in Case of Emergency is the relationship between a girl and her estranged father, the book also carefully deals with mental illness – in fact, I would even say that this is a bigger part of the book. In the aftermath of her mom’s tragic death, Toby deals with her own mental health struggles and even attempts to take her own life, a plan that was set in motion before she knew her father was going to return. Although this was very difficult to read, I felt that Francis dealt with this sensitively and without dramatizing this painful point in Toby’s life. While the reactions to Toby’s suicide attempt are frustrating (I especially shook my head at her closest friend Trisha for the way she reacted), I ultimately think these reactions are very realistic and astoundingly human. Here, Francis captures how during our lowest points, people can surprise you, frustrate you, and even fail you in how they show you they care.The book, which I think one could argue is a work of YA historical fiction, is also a reflection of societal attitudes towards gay people. While he did indeed abandon his daughter, Toby’s father’s actions are also a reflection of his surroundings: his family didn’t accept him, and the small town where he grew up was not exactly welcoming of his talents. Even when he returns years later, several characters either make homophobic comments, or express homophobia in their actions, often without being checked. I really wondered if this was done because the book takes place in the 90s – are these comments meant to show that being gay was not as accepted at the time as it is now (or perhaps because people were more ignorant then)? Personally, I believe that homophobia is wrong no matter the decade, but I do understand if this was employed as a means of showing how gay people were treated during this specific time and place. In turn, this also makes the reader think about how people are treated today in 2019 based on their sexual orientation – we say that things are better, and in some respects they are, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think discrimination doesn’t still exist and harm people today just as it did in the past.There is a moment in the book where Toby’s father gives her a bit of an explanation as to why he left and why he never came back. His explanation, however painful it may be, is what I wish I could hear from my own father. I don’t think I ever will. No matter how much I pretend that it has gotten easier to deal with as I grow older, I still want to know him. I’m angry with him, but I still feel love and compassion for him. I don’t know why. For that, I am so thankful to Francis for validating this very real and confusing feeling of longing for something that you’re not really meant to. It has made me feel a little less alone.Regardless of whether or not you can see yourself reflected in Toby’s story, at the very heart of Break in Case of Emergency is a poignant message of finding self acceptance and empathy in a world that rejects difference. I think most people can relate to that.
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  • Alexis
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was a YA book about a teenager who found out that her estranged father was a drag queen. Turns out that that is just a small portion of the book. The narrator, Toby, is a teenage girl whose mother died by suicide. Toby lives with her grandparents on a dairy farm. (I really honed in on the dairy farm details. Brian Francis did his research).Toby is suicidally depressed, and wants to die. The book is actually about mental health and suicidal ideation, but is also about l I thought this was a YA book about a teenager who found out that her estranged father was a drag queen. Turns out that that is just a small portion of the book. The narrator, Toby, is a teenage girl whose mother died by suicide. Toby lives with her grandparents on a dairy farm. (I really honed in on the dairy farm details. Brian Francis did his research).Toby is suicidally depressed, and wants to die. The book is actually about mental health and suicidal ideation, but is also about love, and families. Author Brian Francis treats every character in this book with incredible compassion, which is what I loved the best about it. There are also a lot of incredibly sweet moments. This was sad, moving, and funny, all at the same time.Wonderful book. :)
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    A YA book that I believe will be appreciated most by teens. Although it explores mental illness, suicide, identity and family dysfunction, it does so with humour, humanity,and hope. I will recommend it to my high school readers who are looking for a read with mature themes and subject matter without a prevailing sense of darkness. The humor tempers the tragedies and keeps the story entertaining. An enjoyable read.
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  • Colline Vinay Kook-Chun
    January 1, 1970
    I do admit to beginning this novel with high expectations as it had been avidly promoted. The story also interested me as it dealt with possible mental health issues that so many teens face at this time of their lives. I think it is good that there is literature like this out there to help teen readers realise that they are not alone when experiencing suicidal thoughts or even feelings of worthlessness.The story is written from the point of view of a teenage girl who does feel worthl I do admit to beginning this novel with high expectations as it had been avidly promoted. The story also interested me as it dealt with possible mental health issues that so many teens face at this time of their lives. I think it is good that there is literature like this out there to help teen readers realise that they are not alone when experiencing suicidal thoughts or even feelings of worthlessness.The story is written from the point of view of a teenage girl who does feel worthless; and who comes to believe that the people she is surrounded by would be better off without her. She does have a raw deal: growing up with her grandparents without a dad around, her mom having committed suicide. Francis places us right inside the mind of Toby Goodman, a girl who is having suicidal thoughts. We read of how her mind circles around suicide and why it would be such a good thing for her to do. There were moments, to be honest, when I felt that the thoughts expressed were a bit repetitive and I wished the story would move on – though I can understand that the writer wanted to reflect how a depressed person would focus on the negative and constantly obsess on a point.Toby Goodman meets her dad who is a well-known drag queen. Not much time is spent on the encounter and subsequent meetings though. At the end of the novel, I wished that more had been written of their interaction. The moment of meeting her dad does help Toby come to certain realisations about herself, and even about her mom. Meeting her dad does put to rest some concerns that Toby had about her mother and her own relationship with her.Toby is a character that grows in the story. She learns about herself and about what is important to her. She comes to learn more about the people in her lives; and begins to see herself through their eyes. The novel suggests to the reader that in our lives we are part of a group; and that we each have our role within that group. Out role is important and our actions do affect the others around us in a negative or positive way.Break In Case of Emergency is a novel that celebrates a person who can overcome extreme sadness with the help of those around her. It celebrates that we, as people, can overcome the challenges in our ordinary lives with the love of those in our lives. This contemporary young adult novel will be one of those stories that can help young teens realise that they are not alone; and that they can look to the support of family and friends to help them through difficult times.
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  • Dolank
    January 1, 1970
    'Let me be your lighthouse.' 🥺
  • Brianna Benton
    January 1, 1970
    This YA novel is a tear jerker. It was a quick read but it deals with important topics of conversations of mental health, LBBTQ+, friendship, and conformity.
  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    Huge Thank You to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!THIS BOOK. This book is a beautiful surprise. Break in Case of Emergency tells the tale of Toby Goodman, a girl who lives with her grandparents on their diary farm. Toby feels like her life is meaningless, especially after the loss of her mother and the disappearance of her father. Constantly contemplating suicide, Toby considers ending her life, until one day her father returns to her, though not what he seems.I loved this book. Toby Huge Thank You to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!THIS BOOK. This book is a beautiful surprise. Break in Case of Emergency tells the tale of Toby Goodman, a girl who lives with her grandparents on their diary farm. Toby feels like her life is meaningless, especially after the loss of her mother and the disappearance of her father. Constantly contemplating suicide, Toby considers ending her life, until one day her father returns to her, though not what he seems.I loved this book. Toby is such an intriguing heroine who isn't exactly chummy with the reader. If anything, she is somewhat distant, often frustrated, and she is trying to cope with the concept that neither of her parents "loved her." She also lives with her grandparents who are sheltered, somewhat bigoted, but mostly have a good heart. They want to protect Toby, even if they don't entirely understand what she is feeling. When her father Arthur returns, there's a sense of the grandparents that Toby needs to be protected from him, but by the other side of it, there's this understand that Toby needs to deal with him on her own.Brain Francis' characters are absolutely wonderful, each well-developed and full of life. Each character offers a different perspective in Toby's sheltered world, and the revelation of Toby's father returning is such a raw and intense moment in the story. Arthur is a fantastic character, equally on par with Toby. He's awkward, but like Toby, is also somewhat distant. His story is so heartbreaking, though it doesn't excuse his behaviour. There's a great lesson in novel involving forgiveness, especially in the idea that forgiveness must be earned, but just given, and it plays such a huge role for a lot of the characters in the story.Watching Toby grow and change in this story is also a delightful aspect, as it unfolds in such an organic way. Toby has had so much loss and hardship, to the point of wanting to commit suicide, and yet she also grows to understand the value of life and what it means to live fully and freely. Everything about this story from new beginnings, to new relationships, to mending fences, are all interesting and emotional. There's just so much to love and connect with in Break in Case of Emergency. It's a story of displaced family, found family, and it means to be alive. Brain Francis has written a story that is deeply moving, as it is funny and poignant. If you love your young adult stories to be full of raw emotion and small triumphs, than this novel is easily for you.
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  • Nikki Stafford
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I had the distinct pleasure and honour of acquiring and editing Brian Francis's first book, Fruit, and I have adored every word he's written since. This book is his foray into YA literature, and it should be assigned on every high school reading list. It copes with suicide, and how it affects those left behind. But then it moves into the mind of a suicidal person, and shows us a perspective we don't usually see, blending both—the minds of the victim an Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I had the distinct pleasure and honour of acquiring and editing Brian Francis's first book, Fruit, and I have adored every word he's written since. This book is his foray into YA literature, and it should be assigned on every high school reading list. It copes with suicide, and how it affects those left behind. But then it moves into the mind of a suicidal person, and shows us a perspective we don't usually see, blending both—the minds of the victim and the survivor—into one. I cried big, big tears for the last 100 pages, and hugged the book to my chest when I was done. Having struggled with losing a loved one to suicide a few years ago, I was finally able to put some notions to rest in a way that even therapy didn't help me do. Along the way he explores what makes a parent and a family, and how our political and social upbringing can blind us to real love and compassion. His characters are absolutely wonderful. This is an exquisite book.
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  • Tim McGregor
    January 1, 1970
    Brian Francis’ new book may be categorized as YA but there’s nothing YA about how he weaves this raw story of identity, self worth and forgiveness. By turns funny and heartrending, we follow misfit teen, Toby Goodman, as she struggles with alienation, grief, and loss during those awful high school years that none of us escape unharmed. Her life is turned upside-down by the unexpected return of the prodigal father who sashays onto the scene in the form of a drag queen with a personality way too b Brian Francis’ new book may be categorized as YA but there’s nothing YA about how he weaves this raw story of identity, self worth and forgiveness. By turns funny and heartrending, we follow misfit teen, Toby Goodman, as she struggles with alienation, grief, and loss during those awful high school years that none of us escape unharmed. Her life is turned upside-down by the unexpected return of the prodigal father who sashays onto the scene in the form of a drag queen with a personality way too big for this parochial small town. Hilarity ensues with Francis’ usual deft touch that pushes these characters through their suffocating biases to glimpse at bigger truths. Did I mention it’s funny? But don’t read on an empty stomach, the numerous dinner scenes had me craving old fashioned Sunday roasts.
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  • Jaclyn
    January 1, 1970
    A moving story about a teen girl whose mother died by suicide and whose long-absentee father returns to her life. I love the character of Arthur (and his drag alter ego Ann T Christ), I felt for the heroine Toby, and I loved her best friend, grandparents and mother's best friend. It's a story of complex, flawed individuals all making do the best they can within their fractured-yet-still-loving family unit.CW: suicide, depression
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  • Melanie Cole
    January 1, 1970
    All the feels! Loved it! This story is completely relatable to anyone. Who doesn’t feel like their family is odd? Who doesn’t feel like a misfit? While this novel deals with heavy topics, it’s done in a sensitive and compelling manner that allows the reader to feel empathy without apathy. We are all struggling with the hands we’ve been dealt, doing our best, and that’s okay! And it’s real. Well done! Another amazing Canadian author!!
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  • Susan Ladan
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent young adult novel. I read this book after hearing Brian Francis interviewed by Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter on CBC Radio. I really enjoyed the interview and the book. It's amazing how a book dealing with topics like suicide, mental health and accepting others as they are can be so entertaining.
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  • Herminia Chow
    January 1, 1970
    About the book: Toby Goodman’s mom committed suicide and her dad left before she was born. But now her father, a gay, female impersonator, comes home. When Toby’s plans to end her pain goes awry, she has to learn to pick up the pieces of her life and put them back together.I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.First impressions: I like the title and cover a lot. The premise intrigued me, so I was looking forward to reading About the book: Toby Goodman’s mom committed suicide and her dad left before she was born. But now her father, a gay, female impersonator, comes home. When Toby’s plans to end her pain goes awry, she has to learn to pick up the pieces of her life and put them back together.I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.First impressions: I like the title and cover a lot. The premise intrigued me, so I was looking forward to reading it.Characters: Toby develops a great deal throughout the course of the novel. Many of the characters are flawed in their own ways, which made it easy to relate to them.“It’s only when you lose something that you understand what it meant to you.”Writing: The author explores topics such as mental health and suicide. In my opinion, Francis handles these issues really well. He doesn’t glamourize or trivialize anything.The book isn’t too long, and the chapters are short. On one hand, it’s beautifully written; on the other, the story is so sad.Final thoughts: The ending suits the rest of the story. Honestly, I wish I could’ve read this book when I was in high school.I highly recommend Break in Case of Emergency if you want to read an emotional but important novel.
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  • Emaan
    January 1, 1970
    4.5This was a difficult read because the topic was a little close to home, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless. Oftentimes authors romanticise mental health and suicide but I’m glad that was not the case here.
  • Adam Dunn
    January 1, 1970
    An enjoyable read with three dimensional characters. I'm not the intended audience maybe, not youth, not female, I found it a little too sad. Lots of emotion and heart.
  • Melody
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing! I absolutely loved it! Highly recommended for teens (and adults who enjoy YA realistic fiction).
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