Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Pieces of Us 
by Margie Gelbwasser
Published: March 2012
Publisher: Flux
Available: Amazon


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.


First off, this book is not for the faint of heart. Pieces of Us is a very raw and honest look into the minds of four very different teens that all have some type of emotional problem. While I loved this book, I would not recommend it to any teen under sixteen simply because I think there is a need for a certain level of maturity to handle the subject matter. There is cussing, there is drinking, there is sex (consensual and not), and it's not pretty.

Written in alternating points of view we get to see the characters not only as they see themselves, but also how others see them. The alternating voices is one of Gelbwasser's strengths. Each of the four characters were very distinctive in their speech and in their thought process. I had a galley copy, so there were minor errors such as missing headings signalling the change in character point of view. But I was able to quickly figure out there had been a change, simply by what the characters were thinking.

Julie immediately grabbed me and I felt a lot of sympathy for her. She's the ugly duckling of her family and is constantly envious of her older sister Kate, but she also has her own personality and she stands strong, or at least she thinks she does. She really starts off as the unwilling victim. Her older sister Kate took me a lot longer to get into. She does initially come across as the shallow girl Julie sees her as, but the more of her view we see the more obvious it is that she's facing harder things than her sister ever imagines. Alex and Kyle are a completely different story. Alex is one of those teen guys that my father would have killed if I'd ever brought home. He has zero respect of women and he hides that side of himself from Kate. He is the abused becoming the abuser. Kyle's story seems to be a bit more on the sad side, but there were bits and pieces that really made me wonder at the extent of abuse he was suffering.

There is so much more I want to say about this book, but I can't figure out how to do it without spoiling the story. I will say that the ending left me with wanting more, but I think if I had been given the ending I wanted I would have felt that the author had caved under pressure. As it stands I was left feeling both hope and hopelessness for the characters. Definite read if you're looking for a good cry and a dark contemporary read.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting review. I find the storyline so intriguing. From your review I can tell that the story is dark- but it sounds fascinating. I am especially curious about the ending based on what you wrote. Thanks for sharing!