Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser
Published by Flux Books
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Every summer, brothers Alex and Kyle and sisters Julie and Katie get together at the lakeside community where both sets of grandparents reside. When the four of them are together, they can forget their real lives and become different teenagers. But when the school year starts back up, Alex cannot control his rage at his father who killed himself and at his mother who he blames for his father’s death, and Kyle is angry at Alex’s abuse and at his mother for not caring about how Alex acts. Katie pretends to be the perfect, popular, happy girl that everyone thinks she is, while hiding a devastating secret that would destroy her if anyone found out, and Julie is busy fading into the background of their home, with a mother who doesn’t care about her and a sister who doesn’t want her around. When Katie’s huge secret threatens to get out, these four teens’ lives will be changed forever.
I don’t even know what to say about Pieces of Us. This novel is suspenseful and absolutely heartbreaking. The characters are the kind that you simultaneously love and hate, the story is the kind that is incredibly difficult to put down. But I don’t want to talk too much about the story itself, because it’s best that you go in not knowing much about Katie’s big secret or what these four teens come to mean to one another.
I cannot tell you eloquently enough the difficulty I had with these characters! I felt so much sympathy for each one of them, yet their actions at times made me unbelievably angry. Alex, most especially, was really a horrible person with the things that he did, but at the same time it was clear that his emotional pain was causing him to be such an abusive, raging person. He had been through so much emotional turmoil in his short life, and he took all that energy and channeled it into treating everyone else horrifically. It broke my heart and made me want to throw the book across the room. But I also wanted to hug him and help him heal. Do you see the conundrum? And the other three made me feel the same way, to a degree, just for different reasons.
Pieces of Us is pretty sexually graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens. But for those of you that can handle books that don’t shy away from real-life pain and incredibly heartbreaking situations, Pieces of Us is a good choice. You will hate these characters but love them too. You will be angry at the book but also desperate to find out how everything turns out. Recommended for readers with a high emotional pain tolerance.