10 April 2012

YA Book Review: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Release Date: 8 March 2012
Publisher: Flux
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Goodreads description:
Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.
My Thoughts...
I feel that I'm rarely at a loss for how things to talk about with a book, but it seems that Pieces of Us has left me unsure of what to say. I won't say that I vehemently disliked this by any means, but it certainly didn't capture my heart and mind the way that I expected it to. 

Pieces of Us starts out with a lot of promise.  The four characters--Katie, Julie, Alex, and Kyle--are all introduced and you immediately get a feeling for each of their characters.  Katie hides behind the facade of beauty and popularity.  Julie is shy and has been made to feel inadequate by a terrible mother.  Alex is full of rage with a mean, vengeful streak only tempered by Katie.  Kyle is inexplicably broken--so much so that he speaks in second person.

After the brief introduction, I expected to fall in love or lust with each of their characters and their personal struggles but ultimately I found it difficult to connect with them the vast majority of the time. Each one makes any number of bad decisions and I know that makes them human and normal but I just found that I couldn't CONNECT with their bad decisions.  I couldn't empathize with them.  Throughout the course of the novel, each character changes and grows immensely but not always for the better.  Some characters I found I connected with and then they pushed me away and made me strongly dislike them and lose interest in their well-being.  The only characters that I had any hope for in the end were Katie and Kyle...and that was just barely.  They each ended on a positive development, but I found myself so turned off by the actions of the other two that it overshadowed the somewhat hopeful note that the novel ends on.

While I'm normally not a fan of more than two alternating POVs, the idea of having all four POVs both really worked...and didn't...in this novel.  I loved the opportunity to see, hear, and feel what each of these characters was going through at any given point.  There's simply too much going on in their lives that connects them all and a lot would get lost without that.  However, I wish I could have spent more consecutive moments with each character.  You get glances into each of their lives and then it moves quickly on to another.  While the disconnect and rapid-movement was probably meant to emphasize the broken/scattered nature of their lives (which I'll admit it did), it gave me a sense that I couldn't develop real connections with them and quite possibly contributed to my previously mention disconnect with the characters. 

That's all I feel like I can say without getting into specific characters and their situations/changes--things you need to discover on your own with this novel.  I'm a fan of darker YA novels and this one fits the bill--but it wasn't everything I thought it could/would be. I have to give it credit for pulling me in at least some--it was like watching a train wreck where you couldn't look away.  Pieces of Us tackles a lot of tough issues--but not all of them necessarily well.  If you're really looking for a novel that dives into the dark side of being a teenager with bad parents, then maybe this read will be what you're looking for.  Be warned--it's dark and it's ugly and I wouldn't recommend it for readers under 16 or 17.

Because reading is very subjective...here's a positive view on this one.  If you're interested in this novel, check it out and decide for yourself if you want to give this one a try!

1 comment:

rogier said...

bummr it was mere ok for you
ppl differ
it was a solid 4.5 for me though

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