Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Release Date: March 8, 2012
Publisher: Flux
Rated: YA 15+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

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.

Usually when you think of "summer" books you think of romance, fun, boys and bonfire nights. Well, this summer book totally changed that whole image. Pieces of Us is a story about four teens, who all have something that they want to forget, to break free of. We have four stories from four perspectives which show responses and emotions to the events that occur in this novel.
I liked the idea of Pieces of Us, and the general story line was great, and it was a really interesting contemporary. BUT...I found that some parts of the book were too graphical for a younger young adult audience (which totally made me just change the rating from YA 14+ to 15+). The profanity in this book is quite high, and so I would recommend this to older teens.

What I found interesting about the characters was that in this book, unlike most YA contemporaries today, they're not American per se. They're Russian, so it's cool to see a difference in character background :)
For me, most of the characters change in my view from either really good to really bad or vice versa during the book. It's quite shocking to see how my favorites turned to be the ones I hated in the end!

First up, we have Katie, the one who starts the chain-reaction of events. I didn't like her at the beginning, because she was just too much of a popular girl for me and (in my opinion) overly-obsessed with being the most popular person in school. However, I guess underneath it all, I really did feel sympathetic towards her– I don't know if anyone would do the same thing in her situation, but you gotta give her some props for what she goes through and how she makes it in the end. Somewhere during the middle though, I have NO IDEA what goes on with her, but I ended up liking her in the end.
Julie is Katie's younger sister, and the child who's mom completely skips over, only fretting about Katie and her popularity (I'll get to the mom later). Julie I first liked, because she was pretty down to earth, the smart girl, not known for her looks and such. But at the end, geez, what's with her? I don't want to give away too much, but this girl gets a life-makeover, I'll tell you that.

And now: the boys. Alex...what can I say? Hated him pretty much throughout the novel, even though he has the tiniest sliver of the whole "bad-boy" attraction, I generally disliked him from start to finish. There were moments in the book when you can't help but feel sorry for him, but seriously? Not a person I would like to know.
Kyle, oh Kyle. I always liked him! He's the only character which didn't change my opinion through the story, and he's just the sweetest guy character out there. Honestly, being stuck with three difficult people has got to be a pain, but he's just so patient and you'll keep rooting for him, no matter what.

Now coming back to an earlier point: Katie and Julie's mom. What is UP with this woman? If you combined Matilda's mom and the Trunchbull (both from Matilda by Roald Dahl), you would have found them to be a more moral and somewhat sensible person than this lady. Hated her. Too obsessed with Katie's popularity, to the point where she's even more so than Katie herself, and when things spread around, she treats them like they're normal! Absolutely hated this woman. GAH.
Other than for the weird and horrible mother, something else that I would have changed would be the length. This was slightly too long, so it dragged in some bits, but I felt that it could have been a much more "up-beat" read if it was a little shorter.

Overall, Pieces of Us is about the summer which none of us would ever want to have, despite the freedom to be themselves, there's the secrets surrounding these four teens that cage them. Gelbwasser has written a touching and heart-wincing novel which definitely stands out in the young adult contemporary genre. Can't wait to read more from this author, as I'm sure I'll be astounded by the amazing writing once more.

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  1. I've wanted to read this for a while. It sounds really good and I am looking forward to checking it out. Great review :)

  2. Great review! Just added this to my TBR list.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and following! :)

  3. This sounds like a great book. Loved you review.

  4. i loved this book
    and yes total 360 turn around
    my fav was kyle

    gr8 review

  5. I'm thinking to get myself a copy of this book because I'm curious with the premise. Pieces of Us sounds totally a keeper, one that I would enjoy if I ever in need of something touching and Kleenex-required! I'm glad that at least, you find a character whom you like in this book! :)

    Awesome review, Rabiah! :)

  6. Never heard of this, but the concept sounds awesome and unique. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It's a great review. And it sounds like the characters stir up a lot of emotions, which is usually a sign of a good read. :)

  7. This sounds intense and I love that these characters don't stay the same throughout the novel. Thanks for the awesome review zeroing in on all the characters! I love the cover and I'm sure I'll find the book interesting :)


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