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Monday, March 19, 2012

My Thoughts: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

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.

**Review copy received from NetGalley.**

Continuing with my current contemporary faze, I bring to you Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser. I have really been loving contemporary YA recently, so when Pieces of Us was brought to my attention I was intrigued, for several reasons, but one of them being that it takes place over the summer. I really like novels that take place over a a specific season, The Summer I Turned Pretty, The Last Summer of Skinny Dipping, all those books take place during the summer. For the most part so does Pieces of Us however this is not your average summer read. Its more than that, much more.

The story is also more than what the synopsis says it is. It is told from four different perspectives Katie's, a sixteen year old girl who has it all. She is head cheerleader and adored by many, she is her mother's dream child and has a mega hot boyfriend; Julie, Katie's fourteen year old sister. She's always played second string to Katie, never good enough. She's not super popular, she's not incredibly thin- she's just not, in comparison to Katie; Alex, Katie's summertime boyfriend. Alex is broken and angry, and his anger has turned into something dark and destructive and Kyle, Alex's younger brother who has been the victim of his brother's abuse for years. All four teens are connected to one another and play a very significant role in one another's lives.

I enjoyed Pieces of Us about as much as one could enjoy a story like this one. It was intense and disturbing. So incredibly disturbing. The story (for the most part) revolves around Katie and her experiences- it is a little more than that, however, the individual issues each character is struggling with is put into perspective with Katie's situation. I found this aspect of the story incredibly interesting, and rather creative. Gelbwasser could have stuck with the more traditional route of explaining how someone was feeling and how it affected them. However, she was able to incorporate the specific emotions into the interactions that the four characters had with one another and with others. She did an amazing job at getting the reader to fully understand the depth and the complexity of the situations.

The story itself bothered me. I think mostly because of what it surrounded. I don't want to spoil anything. But something terrible happens to Katie and she does not handle it well, and it has a sort of snowball effect on the lives of the people around her. There were times that I wanted to scream at Katie and tell her she was doing it all wrong. She was a weak character and it bothered me to see how much of a door mat she was. She let herself be taken advantage of and in the beginning I sympathized with her but after a while I wanted her to stand up for herself, to stop letting what other people thought of her affect her decisions. Alex was an abusive bastard jerk. There were times where you understood where he was coming from and why he would do the things he did, but then you remember what he did to his brother and all that goes away. It's messed up, really.

Pieces of Us is a complicated novel and I am not doing a great job of conveying what went into it and what the book essentially is. It was a brilliant novel that discussed a lot of serious issues. It was a little overwhelming at times because there were so many awful things that took place, but it was worth the read. Young adults everywhere should read this novel. I feel like it will teach them SO much about what is right and wrong, and what is acceptable behaviour.

~Happy Reading Everyone!


  1. Great review! I think it's an incredibly well-written book but, as you said, really disturbing. No question that Margie's a phenomenal author though. I was lucky enough to interview her recently and apparently her next book's not quite as dark - thank goodness!!

  2. Great review!
    I almost requested this one in NG but after reading your review I realize I did well in passing on it.
    It sounds like it was disturbing and if you felt like yelling at Katie I probably would have too

    Thanks for sharing your review.

  3. Wow, I wouldn't have expected this to be a disturbing book at all! I knew it would be kind of dark, with the topic of suicide, but I wasn't expecting it to be that kind of intense. now I'm really curious about it and I'll have to see if I can get a copy sometime!

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After


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