Sunday, September 6, 2009
All the Broken Pieces--Excellent Free Verse
I've said before how much I like free verse novels. I've posted about several of my favorites, Summerhouse Time, 42 Miles, Where I Live and have enjoyed others, Home of the Brave, without a post. I recently finished All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg and loved it. The reading level and subject matter are such that I probably won't buy it for our library, but I definitely recommend it for middle school readers, it is powerful!
The story revolves around Matt Pin, a Vietnamese boy who was airlifted out of his native land and adopted by an American family. Matt is the son of an American soldier who abandoned him and his Vietnamese mother. He has mixed feelings as he goes about his new American life.
He is adopted into a loving home with an adoring baby brother, but he can't help feeling like he abandoned his birth mother and baby brother in Vietnam. In fact, his Vietnamese mother begged the Americans to take him so that he would have a future and the chance at a better life. He is torn by the guilt he feels and the hate he has for some of his classmates that torment him. In the end he reaches a level of peace, and understanding of his classmates with the help of a coach and a support group for Vietnam vets that are helping each other to cope with both physical and emotional scars.
Ann E. Burg's poetry is well written and flows so easily over and around this difficult subject. She creates characters through the verses that are some of the most memorable I've read this year. It's a well written novel about a topic that doesn't get a lot of attention for kids. This is a powerful novel from a first time author, I've read a lot of those this year, and I'm not surprised to see the title popping up on Newbery lists everywhere. As I stated in the beginning, I don't think this is a novel for an elementary school library, but definitely for middle school readers.