Sunday, November 4, 2012

34 Pieces of You, by Carmen Rodrigues- Review

From Goodreads:
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....

I have said, many, many times on this blog, I love an unexpected book, and 34 Pieces of You was totally one of those books.  I picked it up at the BEA based on the blurb, and then while in a different line I chatted up someone who'd gone to the speed dating with authors and had talked to the writer.  She managed to make the book sound even more intriguing, and so it didn't take long before I made sure it hit my reading cycle.

I'm glad I had a good recommendation keeping me reading, because the first few chapters, with a P.O.V change within each, were dark, secretive and a bit confusing.  I might not have stayed with it if I didn't have a strong belief it would come together.  And come together it did. Beautifully.

Although stark at first, Rodrigues' change of narrative from one chapter to the next is the depth that makes this story sing.  Hearing from each of these teens personally, gradually unraveling their complicated past and relationships is engrossing and heart breaking.  I especially liked the way Rodrigues shows how one persons hurt could bleed into all those around her, affecting their relationships and lives.  It was eye opening.

I also appreciated seeing the struggles of a gay teen.  It's sad to say, but it's the first time I've read a YA book where there's a gay teen who is one of the main characters and not just a secondary character.  Her struggles, especially in light of her first crushes apparent suicide, and her secrecy from her family are so sad, yet they ring a bell of truth.  It's a big secret to keep, and I can't imagine how people do it.

My favorite thing about 34 Pieces of You is how there are no easy solutions or happy endings.  Everyone is left just trying to pull things together again.  It would have been easy for Rodrigues to cheap out and give a happy ending, but I respect the level of realism here.  Sometimes the best you can hope for is everyone just trying to rebuild.

A beautifully written book, dealing with tough subject matters in an honest way, 34 Pieces of You was wonderful breath of fresh air.  I can't recommend it enough.

34 Pieces of You, by Carmen Rodrigues
Published by Simon Pulse, September 4th, 2012
My copy acquired at the BEA
Buy 34 Pieces of You on Amazon