Monday, November 15, 2010

Boy Book Review - all the broken pieces

All the Broken PiecesAll the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story of 7th grader Matt Pin is told in verse, a format I usually dislike (I'm not a poem person). But this book, one of many I learned about at the YALSA conference on diversity, gripped me from page one and never let me down. The tight writing enabled me to feel what the boy struggles through.  Matt and his Vietnamese mother were abandoned by his American soldier father before he was born. At the age of ten he was airlifted out of Viet Nam and adopted by an American family, leaving his mother and crippled half-brother behind. Three years after being adopted by an American family he's dealing with enemies in school, a beloved coach facing cancer, a new baby brother who might take his adopted family's love away, and injured Vietnam veterans who force him to confront his feelings about the past. Now his family has their own child, and he's left worrying about his future. Will there still be a place for the boy who looks different from everyone else, the boy who cannot forget his past?

This book brought back the Viet Nam era in a way no other book I have ever read did for me. The wounded vets help Matt understand that his mother had to have loved him to give him away. His adopted father deals with guilt over his medical school deferrment. And a schoolmate who hates Matt because "my brother died over there because of you," helps Matt overcome his own guilt over the accident that crippled the brother he had to leave behind.

This is more than a book for middle school and more than just a boy book. Young people and adults of all ages will be pulled into this world and time that many of us tried to forget, and that Matt cannot forget. In the end I know it's not IF Matt heads back to Vietnam to find his mother and brother, its WHEN.

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1 comment:

MissAttitude said...

I've had this book on my TBR list for awhile now, I really need to get to it and finish it before the new year! (plus I need it for a historical fiction challenge). I didn't live through the Vietnam War but it's a time period that's always fascinated me.

Thank you for this review :)