Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
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…


Review:

Going into this one I wasn't sure if I was going to love it or hate it. The reviews I had seen were mixed but I couldn't resist the 13 Reasons Why vibe it was giving off. As it turns out I ABSOLUTELY loved this. Gritty, heartbreaking, and fast paced, 34 Pieces of You has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary books of the year. I only wish I had read it sooner!

34 Pieces of You introduces the reader to 3 POVs: Jake, Jessie, and Sarah. All three have varying relations to the deceased: Jake was Ellie's brother, Sarah was Ellie's best friend, and Jessie is Sarah's little sister, an outsider of sorts.

Whenever books have multiple POVs I get slightly worried about character development and plot building, but Carmen Rodrigues did a wonderful job of handling the multiple perspectives. Each character was well developed and their stories blended together beautifully. The aspect I liked the most about the multiple POVs was how they showed the many ways one death could influence three people's lives. Both Jake and Sarah felt such an incredible sense of guilt over Ellie's death. Sarah was the last person to see Ellie alive that night while Jake was the last person Ellie called. Throughout the book, the reader witnesses Jake and Sarah hit so many highs and lows, as both question what they should've done, what they knew, and how they can move on. Their emotions jumped off the page and came to life, and throughout the book I wanted nothing more than the two of them to find peace. Jessie, however, was the really show-stealer here. At first I wasn't quite sure what role she would play - she didn't even seem to know Ellie very well, only in the role of her sister's incredibly intimidating best friend. Over the course of the novel, however, the reader learns that Ellie and Jessie had a larger connection than anyone could've imagined, and Jessie, just like Sarah and Jake, has equal amounts of quilt to share.

As hinted to above, the plot of this is incredibly character driven. 34 Pieces of You at its heart is a story of moving on and learning to make peace with the past. There was some mystery, though, in the form of what type of bond Ellie and Jessie shared, what had happened between Sarah and Jake in the past, and whether or not Ellie's death was truly an accident. All three questions managed to make the book move at a rapid speed, and by the end, I was quite satisfied with how everything turned out albeit a little heartbroken. (Side note: the scene with Jake and his dad at the airport? I cried a little...okay a lot.) What really shaped this novel into something special, however, was the 34 notes Ellie leaves behind. Each offered not only a personal, chilling view into Ellie's live but also more to Ellie's character than just the roles she is seen playing in each of the three perspectives.

In all, 34 Pieces of You is a novel that blew me away. So I urge you all to give this book a try - hopefully you all will enjoy it as much as I did!

Grade: A

34 Pieces of You (Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble) is now out!

Source: ARC provided by publisher - thanks Simon Pulse!

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