34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues
A dark and moving novel--reminiscent of "Thirteen Reasons Why--"about the mystery surrounding a teenage girl's fatal overdose.There was something about Ellie...Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance--and kept watch.
Now Ellie's dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are thirty-four clues she left behind. Thirty-four strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. Thirty-four secrets of a brief and painful life.
Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they confront the past, they will discover not only the darkest truths about themselves, but also what Ellie herself had been hiding all along....
Having never read Thirteen Reasons Why (I know, I really need to!) I wasn't sure what to expect with that comparison, but I did know this was going to be a dark and emotional read. 34 Pieces of You was gritty and intense and did bring forth a lot of emotions in me. It was told in three points of view, and while at first I was a little confused about who was who and what their connection was to Ellie, it soon started to make sense and this way of telling the story definitely helped me better understand each of the characters and how Ellie's death affected them.
Jess, Sarah, and Jake are three people who were very close to Ellie, but each in different ways. They all feel guilty after she dies and we only learn why as the novel progresses. Not only is 34 Pieces of You told in alternating points of view, it also goes from the present to the past. This helps give the reader a solid idea of both what is happening after Ellie's death and what happened before Ellie's death. There is a lot of emotion packed into this book, but it is a quick read.
While the main characters should be the ones who are the most fleshed out, I still wished to know some of the secondary characters a little better. I never did completely understand the parents and certain other characters didn't seem completely necessary. By the end of the book, though, I did feel quite connected to the main characters because the book really allows the reader to see into their heads.
The plot was fast-paced and kept me reading. Each chapter started with one of the 34 notes Ellie left behind and this allowed not only the reader, but Jess, Sarah, and Jake to find out more about the mysterious Ellie. Ellie is one of those characters that is so messed up that it is hard not to feel for her even when she is spiraling out of control and dragging many people down with her. Each of the character's stories wove together in an intriguing way and I especially liked watching them learn more not only about Ellie, but themselves as the book progressed.
This was a heartbreaking and intense debut from Carmen Rodrigues and it reminded me of works by Amy Reed and Ellen Hopkins. While 34 Pieces of You was not perfect, it was a strong debut and it tackled many tough issues. The only complaints I have are that I wish some characters were developed more and that the notes had more of a role in the book as a whole. All in all though, I am glad I read this book and will definitely be recommending it to fans of darker contemporary YA.
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
September 4, 2012/Simon Pulse/352 Pages/Young Adult
Source: Publisher (ARC)