Monday, January 16, 2012

Pieces of Us

My latest review for School Library Journal--I can't say I was very positive about this book.  I recommend it only for older, mature readers due to language and violence.

Pieces of Us
For a few weeks every summer Julie, Katie, Alex and Kyle can be free of the demands of school and their lives back home when they meet at their grandparents’ homes in the Catskills.  They even call each other by the Russian names their grandparents’ use.  But events from back home begin to interfere with their peaceful lives in the mountains.  Alex’s anger at his father for abandoning the family and his mother for ignoring the boys comes out in the string of girls he uses for meaningless sex and then leaves.  Kyle stays quietly out of sight as much as he can.  Katie is a popular cheerleader whose mother dotes on her while her sister Julie can do nothing right.  But when a violent date rape is caught on tape and goes viral throughout the school, the grief and humiliation is more than Katie can handle.  And when Alex finds out about the incident, his anger boils over into his relationship with Katie and their idyllic summers are over. Katie gets some help for her grief but loses her mother in the process.  Alex falls deeper into his anger and won’t give Katie the support she needs to recover.  This bitterly dark, depressing drama has multiple interlocking storylines which all end unhappily, and the characters, especially Alex, don’t change much by the end of the story.  The story is told with the four teens alternating as narrators which gives interesting perspectives to the narrative but can be confusing to a casual reader.  The plotline of too much alcohol mixed into a party atmosphere results in a great cautionary tale for teens but the extremely descriptive sexual violence and repetitious use of provocative language make this one suitable for only the most mature readers. 

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