Bent Not Broken


Before Madeline’s bike accident left her with a traumatic brain injury, she and her twin sister were inseparable. So were her parents. But now, Madeline’s parents are divorced and Becky has become rebellious, angry, and sneaky. Even worse, she doesn’t seem to want Madeline around anymore. At least Madeline knows she can rely on the miniature therapy horses she visits every week. Justin is the president of his school’s Best Buddies club. Before his sister with autism died, he would take her to the barn to visit her beloved therapy horses. Now, with Madeline, he goes there to escape the gloom of his mother’s grief at home and the pressures of his final year in high school. Together, Justin and Madeline help each other to reconnect with the important people in their lives — and with the lives that they thought they’d lost. Each One-2-One novel tells the story of a different pair of teens participating in the Best Buddies program at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School.



Red Maple Nominee



  • Page Count: 240 pp
  • Format: Paper and e-book
  • Publisher: Clockwise Press
  • ISBN: 9781988347035
  • Categories: Children and YA Fiction
  • Age Range: 13+


Foreword Reviews - March 2017

Bent Not Broken gives a voice to Madeline in a strong, believable way: through her narration, it’s easy to understand the girl whose words, actions, and even emotions can’t always keep up with her thoughts, as well as sympathize with the way the world has changed in its treatment of her after her accident. In a way, Madeline seems trapped in her own body, but her spirit comes through clearly over the course of the novel, and it’s Madeline’s own agency that ends up shaping the lives of those around her.”



Erin Segreto, Voya Magazine - June 2017

“Written in the alternating points of view of Madeline and Justin, Nicholson’s story takes place in a world in which those with mental disabilities are widely accepted but realistically illustrates the many facets and challenges they face. Teens will relate easily to the characters, from Justin’s compassionate and sensible nature to Becky’s dabbling in alcohol and tobacco. These mature topics are handled tastefully and appropriately for middle-grade readers. As part of the One-2-One series (which tells stories of teen pairs in the Best Buddies program at a high school), Bent Not Broken promotes empathy and understanding. It is an ideal addition for any collection.”

Joan Marshall, CM Magazine - June 2017

Bent Not Broken will be appealing to grade 7-9 students whose altruism calls out for a new reality for all students, for an understanding that grief has no boundaries and that forgiveness and belonging are critical for us all.”

Kathleen Keenan, Quill and Quire - June 2017

“Madeline’s chapters shine. Her frustration is relatable and believable, putting a unique spin on typical young-adult novel situations like going to a high school dance.”

Recently Read - June 2017

“At the core it proves to the reader, that no matter what each of us has to endure, sharing the burden often lends each of us to tap and cultivate a hidden strength found within us all. Schultz Nicholson has written this with such sensitivity and poignancy, that you cannot help but be totally engaged from beginning to end!


Helen Kurbiw, CanLit for Little Canadians - March 2017

“Lorna Schultz Nicholson’s books in the One-2-One series attest to the strengths we all have even when dealing with physical or mental trials, and that’s why Bent Not Broken is the very best of titles and the very best of stories. The imagery of something being bent not broken, like a willow bough, is a powerful one. Being bent does not mean weak. Think of bentwood furniture. It’s still strong, just in a different configuration than wood is typically used. So too is Madeline after her accident and resulting brain injury but also Justin after his sister’s death, his mother with her depression, Becky with her guilt, and Madeline’s parents with their marriage. None of them are the same. All have been reshaped by circumstances. Still there is resilience, the need to persevere and accept new postures.

There’s a reason Bent Not Broken was selected by young readers as one of the ten titles recommended for Red Maple readers on the first Summer Reading List of the Forest Kid Committee. These young people could appreciate a book that spoke to them about being strong and compassionate regardless of the struggle. Bent Not Broken, like the earlier books, speaks to the best of us and makes us want to be better, which we can be.

Susan, book fan - June 2017

“I picked this up at the ALA (American Library Association) convention this weekend. I was intrigued because I have a friend who has a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and loves horses. Ms. Nicholson filled the pages with complex characters that revealed the many sides of what people experience.”