The Broken Bottle by Sally Weiner Grotta is more akin to an essay than a short story. In essence, the story is short and introspective, not giving the reader many concrete answers as to what caused the disturbance; the disturbance that, as a result, shook the character Joanne so badly that she has nightmares about the incident.
Grotta’s prose is wonderfully written, evoking the sense of unease as soon as the two characters, Joanne and Andrew enter the restaurant. Grotta paints a vivid and detailed picture and brings forth old memories from the complacent married couple and their delight over the food. Those touches set the mind at ease, but at the same time she makes sure the reader notices the growing tension on the other side of the room with a choice phrase or sentence. The tension mounts as Joanne becomes more agitated while Andrew is still at ease.
After it finally comes to ahead, the couple leave the restaurant and Joanne is fundamentally altered by the experience while Andrew is none the worse for wear. It shows how a single, isolated incident can change how one perceives the world around them for the rest of their life and how it could happen to anyone.
All in all, I feel as it was well written and has an open-ended conclusion that all can be read but will be appreciated by someone interested in psychology as it's more about how one event can change a person's way of thinking and how it can affect them throughout their life.
Reviewed by Jazmin Gousse
Publication date: 12/1/2013