Received: At the library
Rating: 5.0/5.0 stars
Two years ago, Matt was airlifted out of Vietnam, leaving behind his family, just as the Vietnam War was in full swing. When he is brought to the United States, he is adopted by an American family, learns English, and begins going to school. Matt’s story is told in verse and weaves information from both his past life and his present life. Matt is haunted by the memories and secrets he is holding within himself from his time living in Vietnam during the war, which was actually his whole life. Matt connects with his adoptive father by playing baseball. His father thinks he is so good at it, that he should try out for the middle-school baseball team, which he does. Throughout the entire book, Matt struggles with overcoming and accepting what happened in the past, but also struggling with his present life both at home and with his peers who see him as an outcast.
One word for this All the Broken Pieces—WOW! Another Rebecca Caudill nominee for this upcoming school year, this novel told in verse blew me away. What did I enjoy so much about the book? Here are some of my main thoughts. Matt is such a believable character who readers will easily connect with. Matt’s many emotions, including bewilderment, fear, and uncertainty, feel very real. Throughout the pages of the book, I felt Matt’s pain, but I also felt the joy that playing baseball brought to him. Matt’s character allows readers to get a different perspective on the war, one from the other side of the war, not from the American soldier perspective. I liked this aspect of the book because with the current war going on, it will give readers a new way of looking at the children and the people experiencing the war in places such as Iraq. Even though some people there may do things we do not necessarily agree with, such as being human bombs, not ALL the people living in the middle east are like that. Furthermore, United States citizens that may have immigrated from the middle east are not all like that either. Readers are told not to assume or make judgements, but this is not done in a preachy way.
I also liked that the conflicts Matt is experiencing also felt real and were not just easily resolved. For example, it might have been easy to have all of the students at Matt’s school accept him, but that isn’t how the world works. Even though some students might not experience bullying in the same way that Matt does, most know how it feels to be bullied and will be able to connect with this aspect of the book. I can’t express enough how powerful of a book this was. My husband being an Iraq War Veteran, this book gave me a different perspective on how he views his experiences while being in the war.
If you’re looking for a raw, gritty book that is appropriate for a wide range of students, from tweens all the way throughout high school, All the Broken Pieces is a perfect verse novel to recommend. Emotions are strong and believable, the story is one that goes hand-in-hand with the war that is currently going on, and Matt’s character is fully developed and real. A quick read, this book will be one that will linger in my mind long after I finished it.