Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Book Jacket

Two years after being airlifted out of war-torn Vietnam, Matt Pin is haunted: by bombs that fell like dead crows, by the family--and the terrible secret--he left behind.  Now, inside a caring adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events force him to choose between silence and candor, blame and forgiveness, fear and freedom.

By turns harrowing, dreamlike, sad, and triumphant, this searing debut novel, written in lucid verse, reveals an unforgettable perspective on the lasting impact of war and the healing power of love.


All the Broken Pieces has great superficial similarities to The Girl Who Threw Butterflies--an outside tries to sort through their personal demons while playing baseball.  But while Butterflies failed to emotionally connect with me, Broken Pieces blew me away.

I'm not much a fan of books told through poetry, but my prejudice has been rocked.  Matt tells his story in very easily-read free verse, and the simplicity and starkness of the lines really highlight his emotion and make the story more poignant.

Matt has blocked out his harrowing life as a Vietnamese kid during the war, but when he meets a bunch of American veterans and also is confronted with ugly hate crimes at school, he has to come to terms with his past so that he can truly live in the present.  I am fascinated by adopted kids, about the psychology of having two families.  Even more so a boy who is quickly transferred from a life of poverty and war to a life of wealth and security.  The culture whiplash! 

All the Broken Pieces sympathizes with Matt without grossly pitying him.  It manages to show the horror of the Vietnam War without villainizing either the American or Vietnamese sides.  It portrays the intricacies of bullying with understanding but without ever justifying the hate.

I adored this book.  It is a very quick read, but one that will stick with you for a long time.

Five out of five musical scales.

Release Date:  April 2009
Reading Level: Grade 6+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: CAUDILL

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