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Publisher's Summary

In the more than 25 years since she co-founded Omega Institute - now the world's largest center for spiritual retreat and personal growth - Elizabeth Lesser has been an intimate witness to the ways in which people weather change and transition. In a beautifully crafted blend of moving stories, humorous insights, practical guidance, and personal memoir, she offers tools to help us make the choice we all face in times of challenge: Will we be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed?

Lesser shares tales of ordinary people who have risen from the ashes of illness, divorce, loss of a job or a loved one - stronger, wiser, and more in touch with their purpose and passion. And she draws on the world's great spiritual and psychological traditions to support us as we too learn to break open and blossom into who we were meant to be.

©2004 Villard (P)2008 Random House

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Mary
  • Great Barrington, MA, USA
  • 01-13-09

Fabulous Stories...Truly Deep and Moving

Having seen Elizabeth on Oprah I was drawn to her. This book is a jewel. It is beautifully read too. This went on my Ipod and has been my constant companion for 2 days. What gorgeous stories she shares.
I have wept copious tears of joy and sorrow, and feel that she has captured with such beauty...the rich and complex experiences of life.

57 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


The voice of the narrator did not match the subject matter. I found her voice pretentious and disconnected from the text.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Melodie
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 11-19-10

Good content; ok narrator

Elizabeth Lesser's framing of how we can learn from bad experiences should be required reading for everyone in their 20's. We'd all ignore it perhaps, but maybe some of it would stick as we mature and grow. If you have never considered what your "take-aways" or lessons learned are from really bad experiences, then read this book. Even if you understand this at your core, then read this book. I enjoy the framework that she uses especially in the last portion of the book to talk about what is possible. The parts that I didn't enjoy about listening to the book were twofold. I felt as if the narrator was talking in too "airy-fairy" a voice and was sing-songy. It made the text sound preachy and I don't think that was Lesser's intent. She seemed to modulate herself about halfway through the book, or maybe I just numbed out to the irritation because I wanted to get through the content.
The second thing that I didn't appreciated as much was the metaphor of a hero's journey that Lesser applied to her own life. I think she was trying to apply perhaps, some objectivity? But I think it came off as seeming smug or not really taking accountability for the harm she inflicted on others. Calling her extra-marital affair a journey with her "Shaman Lover", I thought was a bit affected. Come on Ms. Lesser, you cheated on your husband- simply put. Your other descriptions of what it was, were very well written and you did accept accountability, but I felt put off by some of the labels that didn't seem quite as useful as the rest of your writing.
Having said ALL of that, I still recommend reading the book, but this may be one that is better read than listened to.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Great Book - Would Recommend, But....

Would you consider the audio edition of Broken Open to be better than the print version?

Never read print

What other book might you compare Broken Open to and why?

Anatomy of the Spirit, Until Today

Would you be willing to try another one of Susan Denaker’s performances?

NO. That is the reason I'm writing this review. Her voice is pretty difficult to listen too. And her child and eldery people immitations are too much to bear. They are grinding and syrupy. Takes away from the book's essence and meaning.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

I would not make a film about this book.

Any additional comments?

Again, highly recommend this book as a reader. Not as an audio book. At least until you get a new narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

belly-button gazing....

A lot of energy is expended on intensive naval gazing and flowery prose. The author's own story dominates and yet fails to inspire. Others' stories (within the book) are interesting but burdened with tortured prose. If you're looking for practical insights and fresh eyes on life, keep looking. Outliers is good for that.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Too Basic

This book is for people who don't have real problems. She goes through the struggles she endured as catastrophic when her children grew up and left home etc. If you are dealing with something intense and as a result you attempt to find direction from this book you may just end up feeling resentful that this woman has never really had any true life experience worth writing about.

She also appears to be obsessed with Ram Dass, who she name drops often as being one of her friends: Ram Dass is an incredible teacher and thinker and its definitely worth listening to any of his material, he has the same command as Eckhart Tolle. Ram Dass has true and unique wisdom. Elizabeth Lesser is like listening to the neighbour next door who doesn't really have anything to whinge about; by comparison.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Angela
  • Oxdrift, Ontario, Canada
  • 09-01-09

Life Changing

I am so glad I selected this book. I have listened to it several times, each time taking something new with me. I purchased two more for a couple of women I thought could use it. An absolutely fantastic, life changing book!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • C J
  • WA, USA
  • 05-12-09

Not my cup of tea

I thought I'd try something different from what I usually get. I'm sorry I did. I'm sure some folks enjoy the metaphysical stuff, but for me this was just like sitting and listening to an eleven hour long sermon. I agree with what the author was saying (self power, learn from mistakes, take time to enjoy the small stuff), but I guess my perfered form of agreement is not in listening to the book.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Skip it ! Nothing here

The author doesn’t have a though of her own . Quote after quote belonging to someone else .
Better books to read . Disappointed!

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  • Story

Life ring for life crisis

Really helped me with my perspective during crisis. I'll be reading more of her work.

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  • Joanna
  • 05-31-16

A must read

A book that I identified with a lot. It gave ne hope and made me look at my life in a positive light.

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  • Sleep Tech
  • 12-06-16

How difficult times help you grow

Where does Broken Open rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Beautiful story & narrator -- thank you. Highly recommended --- even if you are NOT Broken

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?