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In Ka Hancock’s debut novel, Lucy Houston meets Mickey Chandler on her 21st birthday at his nightclub. It is love at first sight. They fall in love, but it’s complicated. Mickey suffers from bipolar disorder and Lucy has a wicked family history of breast cancer. Her mother died from breast cancer when Lucy was a teen. Her father, a policeman, died from a gunshot wound when she was a young child. She’s had a rough life, but she’s the youngest of three girls, and Lucy and her sisters Lily and Priscilla are incredibly close-knit, especially Lucy and Lily. Despite the risks, Mickey and Lucy cannot deny their love and they marry. They accept and learn to live with the highs and lows of Mickey’s mental illness. Several years into their marriage, Lucy does develop cancer, but she survives and recovers. Because of their precarious lot in life, they reluctantly make a decision never to have children and Lucy has a tubal ligation.
Eleven years into their marriage, Lucy makes the startling impossible discovery that she is pregnant. Initially cautious and fearful, Lucy and Mickey soon come to embrace the idea of having a child — a daughter, as they soon find out. Several months into the pregnancy, Lucy’s doctor discovers her cancer has returned. If Lucy does not abort the baby and start cancer treatment immediately, she risks her own life. Both Mickey and older sister Priscilla insist that Lucy have the abortion. Lucy refuses. She knows she is going to die, but fights for her life long enough for her daughter to be born. Mickey stubbornly refuses to believe he is capable of adequately parenting a child on his own, though Lucy is confident that he can. But because he will not agree to the responsibility, Lucy arranges for a joint adoption between Lily and her husband Ron and Mickey.
This well-written story is heart-wrenching on so many levels. Hancock masterfully delves deep into her characters emotions, making real the pain they all experience. Lucy dies on the day her daughter Abby is born. As Mickey mourns the loss of Lucy and gets to know Abby, he discovers a side of himself he never dreamed existed. Though a terribly tragic story, DANCING ON BROKEN GLASS ends on a hopeful note. The book includes an insightful interview with the author and discussion questions. Recommended for readers who enjoy strong character-driven novels and who have a large supply of tissues. Released March 2012.