Friday, October 19, 2012
ARC Review: 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues
Author: Carmen Rodrigues
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
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 34 clues she left behind. 34 strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. 34 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 begin to confront the darkest truths about themselves, they will also find out what Ellie herself had been hiding all along...
At first, I was unsure of this book. The story was told from three perspectives, each having a a different voice. The feeling was not something I could put a finger on, I just had a weird feeling about it. However, near the end of the book I was compelled to read into the early hours of the morning.
As I reached the last word, the emotion that the book caused me to feel set in. I realized that I had grown attached to the story, the characters, and felt the need for them to get rid of their pain. As I lay in the darkness, basked in the light of my laptop, all I could feel was my pulse. I felt it pulsing the length of my body, telling me I was alive, as I processed the depressing story of a girl who battled with secrets that she didn't trust anyone with.
As Jake's sister, Sarah's best friend, and Jessie's neighbour, Ellie was the type of girl who left a print on someone. Not a particularly good kid, she swore, drank, did drugs, and eventually died of an overdose. On the surface she seems like a girl who had fallen off the edge of life long before, but as those left behind told their story of their time with Ellie, her secrets are revealed.
Ellie. She really bothered me at first, because I thought her brash personality was rude and uninviting. Yet, as I continued to read, realizing the loss those around her felt and the pain she felt before her death by overdose. Although I cannot empathize with her character, Carmen Rodrigues did a fantastic job of making me feel connected to her suffering somehow. At first I didn't realize that the chapter intros were the "34 Pieces". I thought they were flashbacks from the person personifying that chapter. As I reached the end, I realized what they were, and went back to read each of them. They offered upsetting and clarifying insight into Ellie's life, that even the people closest to her did not know until she was gone.
Sarah. When I thought of Sarah, I tried to picture how I would feel when my best friend had just died. Although her family saw her deteriorate and retreat into a lonely shell of a person, I felt that she was just trying to cope. I think Sarah would have been a completely different person if Ellie had not bombarded her way into her life, and the choices forced upon would not haunt her and slice through the never ending pain.
Jake. His character was interesting for me. I usually see book boys as attractive or unattractive. With Jake, however, his character had a deep, layered personality. The struggle between feeling guilty for his little sister's death and what he could have done to prevent it, the heartbreaking love for Sarah that he can't act on, and the guilt of leaving his mother in their broken family's time of need. Jake was more of the carer who couldn't bare to face anyone after his sister's death, but couldn't bear to stay away. His guilty conscience struck me more than the numbed pain of Sarah.
Jessie. At first, I was confused as to why Ellie's best friend's sister played such a main role in the story, but it became clear soon enough. As she tried to stay out of the way, Sarah's younger sister became invisible, withering away to nothing because of an eating disorder brought on by grief. I felt the most sorry for Jessie, because Sarah and Jake's grief was public, and people tried to comfort them. However, in the shadow of Sarah's grief, Jessie withered away while the people around her were oblivious.
34 Pieces of You was not a book I would normally pick up, but I am glad I did. I have not read a deep and emotionally riveting book in a while, and Carmen Rodrigues did a fabulous job with this one.