34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues
Release Date – September 4, 2012
Publisher Website – Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**obtained from publisher via BEA for an honest review**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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....Secrets can weigh you down like heavy clothes in water. They can cause you to drown. This novel shows the despair that can come from secrets and the hope that can happen when you ask for help.
Ellie is damaged. Everyone can see she is damaged and yet everyone ignores her pain. Ellie tries to act like she’s fine, but it is obvious she isn’t. The people around her don’t know how to help, and that is the heartbreaking truth of this story.
Jake, Sarah and Jess all feel partially responsible for Ellie’s death. If only they had said something, did something, anything differently. The guilt they are putting upon themselves eats away at them. As characters this was such a defining trait, and quite relatable. I think anyone would feel guilty if they feel they could have helped someone. The emotional journey each of these characters go on, while similar, were personal to that characters story. The different forms of grief, and self blame were written with achingly believability.
The writing in this novel balanced between showing us these characters at their most vulnerable and keeping us at arms length. Ellie especially reflected this. Each of these characters have walls built up, and as a reader you felt that. The writing made you feel that. It worked for this story, but in other stories it would not. I felt we didn’t really connect with the characters, but, in this case, it felt deliberate.
Each of these characters has their own secrets and their own pain. In dealing with Ellie’s death they are forced to examine themselves. They grow, learn and come to terms with some pretty heavy, emotional things. You can feel each heartache, and emotion these characters go through. The three different narratives allowed different parts of Ellie to be shown. Each character knew and interacted with her in a different way, brought out different things in her. This helped with understanding not only Ellie better, but allowed a much more clear picture of what may have happened the night she died.
The starting of each chapter with one of Ellie’s pieces of paper made the story flow rather quickly. This novel, overall, felt like a really short read, but one that is packed full of emotion. It kept my interest and I was invested more in the story, than the characters.
A dark, gritty story of those left behind and the power of forgiving yourself when it’s sometimes the hardest thing to do.