The query letter
I am writing to elicit your interest in my novel, Broken Chocolate,
a 158,000-word work of literary fiction set in modern-day New Haven, Conn.
The story’s fulcrum rests on the question of what happens when the promising course of a young person’s life is suddenly fractured, and how the change in that one person's trajectory can alter the direction of all those standing in her path. Bright and talented Zoe Silversmith is out for a run on the last day of sophomore year, when her heart suddenly stops. She falls to the ground and hits her head on a rock; although she is revived, she sustains permanent brain injury. Zoe does not remember a great deal about her old life, but her parents and four siblings must come to grips with the fact that she will never fulfill the bright future that, until recently, seemed to be inevitably hers.
As Zoe makes her slow and incomplete recovery, the action of Broken Chocolate
unfolds through the eyes of three central figures in her life: Sam, Zoe’s father, is a physician who specializes in traumatic brain injuries; he has shared an especially strong bond with Zoe, and he finds the sudden irony of his career excruciating. Can he continue to practice in his field when he is heartbroken, and no longer able to be objective about his patients' suffering? Conversely, can he preserve enough objectivity to apply his expertise to his own daughter’s situation? Perhaps most critical is the question of whether he can forge a stronger connection with his other children in spite of his bitterness over Zoe’s injury. A second key player is Zoe’s twin brother, Zev, who is painfully shy, but whose psyche is intertwined with his outgoing and popular sister’s. Until now, he has been content to rely on Zoe as his social proxy, but her injury forces him to think and act for himself. Zev must try to overcome his guilt and loneliness as he begins to pull ahead of Zoe in every sphere of life. Zoe’s mother, Liv, provides a third point of view: she is a gentle-souled amateur pastry chef and deeply devoted homemaker, who has always been a little intimidated by her accomplished daughter, but maintains a resolutely optimistic view of the world. She now finds herself questioning her cherished beliefs as she is thrust to the front lines of Zoe’s arduous and often Sisyphean rehabilitation process.
As her family tries to re-envision Zoe’s role in the world, they are confronted with a further quandary: Should they continue to lament even if Zoe herself does not understand what she has lost, or if she appears to be, for the most part, happy? Zoe’s own perspective is revealed through a series of dreams that have been recorded by her speech therapist. The most surprising revelation about Zoe’s injury lies not in how it changes the course of her life, but in how it effects a transformation in each of their lives as well. The story is, above all, an anthem to the joys and sorrows of being part of a family.
I came to this subject primarily through nine years of managing my husband's medical practice, which sees primarily patients with severe, traumatic brain injuries. I have also done graduate work in literary analysis and in neurological speech pathology, and have raised four children of my own. It is my hope that fans of Ann Patchett’s tender character treatment and of Alice Hoffman’s dark and enchanting reflections on family life would enjoy reading Broken Chocolate
I am pleased to provide any portion of my manuscript that you would care to read. Thank you for your consideration.