Friday, October 23, 2009

All the Broken Pieces (MG)

Burg, Ann E. 2009. All the Broken Pieces: A Novel In Verse. Scholastic. 220 pages.

My name is Matt Pin
and her name, I remember,
is Phang My.
His name
I will never say,
though forever I carry his blood
in my blood,
forever his bones
stretch in my bones.
To me,
he is nothing.
If he stumbled on me now,
I wonder,
would he see himself in my eyes?
And I?
Would I recognize the dragon
who went beyond the mountain
and never came back?

Thus opens All The Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg. A verse novel about so much more than Vietnam and baseball. It's been two years since Matt has come to America and been placed with a new family: a new mom and dad and brother. But time isn't healing everything. Sometimes silence speaks volumes. How can his new family help Matt the most? How can they start him on the right path, the path to healing and peace? How can they support him best?

The verse is incredibly well-written. It was so powerful and compelling. It had so many wow-moments for me. Little poems that I just had to read over and over again because they resonated so deep and strong.

My top drawer
is full of pencils, new,
used, half-used, and
all-the-way-to-the-eraser-cap used.
I never get rid of pencils.
I never get rid of anything.
Who knows?
Even a stub
is worth something.

If bombs fall here,
if something terrible
ever happens
that I get sent away,
I'll stuff everything
I can fit
into my pockets.

Even the broken pieces
are worth something
to me. (58-59)
What did I love about this one? It had heart and soul. I loved Matt. I ached for him really. He was hurting so deeply, yet he didn't know how to reach out for help. He needed love so desperately, and yet he was afraid that his new family didn't love him enough. He thought his mother loved him, but she gave him away. That's how he sees it. Can Matt learn the power of love? And what that love sometimes means.

So yes, this book is about baseball. Because baseball is one of the things that helps Matt most. And being on a team, being a part of the team helps heal him in so many ways. Even if it means struggling a bit to find that place on the team.

I think this one works really, really well. I just loved it.

Other reviews: Kids Lit, A Year of Reading, Reading Junky's Reading Roost, Semicolon, Musings of a Book Addict.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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