Tuesday, November 13, 2012

34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues is an Intense Read

34 Pieces of YouTitle: 34 Pieces of You
Author: Carmen Rodrigues
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Published:   September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Source: Sent to me by the author 
Read: September 22, 2012
In  A Few Words: Intense, and powerful
My Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

A dark and moving novel—reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why—about the mystery surrounding a teenage girl’s fatal overdose.

There was something about Ellie... Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance, and kept watch.

Now Ellie’s dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are 34 clues she left behind. 34 strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. 34 secrets of a brief and painful life.

Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they begin to confront the darkest truths about themselves, they will also find out what Ellie herself had been hiding all along..

Melissa's Musings:

All I can say is wow. This book is intense, to say the least.

It touches on so many different issues. In some books, this might be a bad thing, meaning that there's not enough focus and it feels a little aimless, or just like a laundry list of issues to spout off. That's not the case here. While there are lot of issues mentioned within the first chapter or two,  it's done in a natural way, so that you don't get bogged down in them.

This book touches on everything from divorce, to drinking, to sexuality, to sexual abuse, and several other complex issues. 

It's a very hard book to put down because you get so drawn in, so fast. Or at least I did. And the characters are all so interconnected, in ways that you wouldn't even think of. Ellie is the magnet, the one that draws them all in. To her, and to each other. I think that Ellie enjoyed that, in a way that it gave her power. But, at the same time she was hurting and lost and lonely, even surrounded by all these people that it was just too much for her. 

In reading it you might say that Sarah was affected the most, because she attempted suicide with Ellie, but survived, so the survivors guilt must be horrible. Which, I'm sure it is a horrible thing. But, I wouldn't necessarily say that she was the one who suffered the most. I think they all did, in their own way, each equally painful and significant.

I felt the most for Tommy and Jess, because they were the ones who had plenty of secrets of their own to hide, and they were with people who didn't necessarily openly want to be with them, or who were lusting after other people. I'm not mentioning other names because I don't want to give away major plot points or spoilers. Lets just say that when you read it you might be surprised at just how interconnected they all are with each other and some relationships develop that you might not expect,  that you'll be rooting for.

The evolution of the characters is intense, as these painful events draw out memories that they want to forget. The evolution of all the characters is significant in it's own way, even the more minor characters like Jake and Ellie's parents. It was good to see the book from both the kids and the adults perspective, which can be rare for YA books. Usually the parents are distant, or not around at all, and in this case, while they were not the major characters, they played more of a significant part in the story.

I also really liked the way that the story was set up, structurally. Each of the chapters was told from a different character's point of view. But, prefacing each of the chapters was one of Ellie's 34 secrets that she kept in a box under her bed. They were secrets about all of them, what she really felt. And each one set up the coming chapter perfectly. I also like how the chapters are titled either "Before" or "After" because I think that's a mindset that many people can get into when a loved one dies. There's life before it happens, and then life after.

I am very glad that I got the opportunity to read this book and I can't wait to see what comes next from Carmen Rodrigues. If you're looking for something to make you think, this is it.

Have you read this? If so, what did you think?


Anonymous said...

Oooh, I've seen a couple of postive reviews for this one now, and I think it looks heaps interesting, and the characterisation sounds really strong. I completely agree with you on your point about the before/after mindset split. Great review!

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

Thanks Alex!