All The Broken Places

When is a monster’s child culpable? Guilt and complicity are multifaceted. John Boyne is a maestro of historical fiction. You can’t prepare yourself for the magnitude and emotional impact of this powerful novel.”

– John Irving

“Exceptional, layered and compelling…This book moves like a freight train, with force and consequence for the reader.”

– Amy Bloom

A stark confrontation of evil, an examination of guilt and deflection. Boyne treads the finest of narrative lines with skill and grace and proves himself yet again to be among the world’s greatest storytellers.

– Donal Ryan

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All The Broken Places


From the New York Times bestselling author John Boyne, a devastating, beautiful story about a woman who must confront the sins of her own terrible past, and a present in which it is never too late for bravery

Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same well-to-do mansion block in London for decades. She lives a quiet, comfortable life, despite her deeply disturbing, dark past. She doesn’t talk about her escape from Nazi Germany at age 12. She doesn’t talk about the grim post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn’t talk about her father, who was the commandant of one of the Reich’s most notorious extermination camps.

Then, a new family moves into the apartment below her. In spite of herself, Gretel can’t help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. One night, she witnesses a disturbing, violent argument between Henry’s beautiful mother and his arrogant father, one that threatens Gretel’s hard-won, self-contained existence.

All The Broken Places moves back and forth in time between Gretel’s girlhood in Germany to present-day London as a woman whose life has been haunted by the past.  Now, Gretel faces a similar crossroads to one she encountered long ago. Back then, she denied her own complicity, but now, faced with a chance to interrogate her guilt, grief and remorse, she can choose  to save a young boy. If she does, she will be forced to reveal the secrets she has spent a lifetime protecting. This time, she can make a different choice than before—whatever the cost to herself….

Readers and Book Groups may be interested in this discussion guide about ALL THE BROKEN PLACES, which can help to shape conversation about the novel.

  • UK: Doubleday
  • Germany: Piper
  • Holland: Meulenhoff
  • Italy: RCS Rizzoli
  • Portugal: Porto
  • Romania: Editura RAO
  • Turkey: Tudem
  • Brazil: Companhia das Letras
  • Bulgaria: Labyrinth
  • Canada: Doubleday Canada
  • Catalan: Grup 62
  • Czechia: Slovart
  • Finland: Bazar
  • France: JC Lattès
  • Greece: Psichogios
  • Norway: Cappelen Damm (Feb ’23)
  • Poland: Replika
  • Serbia: Vulcan
  • Slovakia: Slovart
  • Spain: Salamanda
  • Sweden: Norstedt
  • Taiwan: Crown
  • USA: Pamela Dorman/Viking (Nov 2022)
  • Vietnam: Nha Nam