Authors: Tahereh Mafi
is a girl. She was born in a small city somewhere in Connecticut and currently resides in Orange County, California, where the weather is just a little too perfect for her taste. When unable to find a book, she can be found reading candy wrappers, coupons, and old receipts. Shatter Me is her first novel. You can visit her online at
or follow her on Twitter (@TaherehMafi).
This Australian edition first published in 2011
First published in the USA by Harper, an imprint of
HarperCollins Publishers, in 2011
Copyright © T.H. Mafi 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The
Australian Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.
Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
|Phone: ||(61 2) 8425 0100|
|Fax: ||(61 2) 9906 2218|
|Email: ||[email protected]|
A Cataloguing-in-Publication entry is available from the National Library of Australia
ISBN 978 1 74237 820 6
Cover photograph: dress designer - Alex London; styling – Katherine
Erwin; hair & makeup – Arturo Swayze
Typography: Ray Shappell
Printed in Australia by McPherson’s Printing Group
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For my parents, and for my husband,
because when I said I wanted to touch the moon
you took my hand, held me close,
and taught me how to fly.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
, “The Road Not Taken”
I’ve been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven’t spoken in 264 days of isolation.
6,336 hours since I’ve touched another human being.
“You’re getting a
cellmateroommate,” they said to me.
We hope you rot to death in this placeFor good behavior,” they said to me.
Another psycho just like youNo more isolation,” they said to me.
They are the minions of The Reestablishment. The initiative that was supposed to help our dying society. The same people who pulled me out of my parents’ home and locked me in an asylum for something outside of my control. No one cares that I didn’t know what I was capable of. That I didn’t know what I was doing.
I have no idea where I am.
I only know that I was transported by someone in a white van who drove 6 hours and 37 minutes to get me here. I know I was handcuffed to my seat. I know I was strapped to my chair.
I know my parents never bothered tosay good-bye. I know I didn’t cry as I was taken away.
I know the sky falls down every day.
The sun drops into the ocean and splashes browns and reds and yellows and oranges into the world outside my window. A million leaves from a hundred different branches dip in the wind, fluttering with the false promise of flight. The gust catches their withered wings only to force them downward, forgotten, left to be trampled by the soldiers stationed just below.
There aren’t as many trees as there were before, is what the scientists say. They say our world used to be green. Our clouds used to be white. Our sun was always the right kind of light. But I have very faint memories of that world. I don’t remember much from before. The only existence I know now is the one I was given. An echo of what used to be.
I press my palm to the small pane of glass and feel the cold clasp my hand in a familiar embrace. We are both alone, both existing as the absence of something else.
I grab my nearly useless pen with the very little ink I’ve learned to ration each day and stare at it. Change my mind. Abandon the effort it takes to write things down. Having a cellmate might be okay. Talking to a real human being might make things easier. I practice using my voice, shaping my lips around the familiar words unfamiliar to my mouth. I practice all day.
I’m surprised I remember how to speak.
I roll my little notebook into a ball I shove into the wall. I sit up on the cloth-covered springs I’m forced to sleep on. I wait. I rock back and forth and wait.