September 4, 2012
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A dark and moving novel—reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why—about the mystery surrounding a teenage girl’s fatal overdose.(synopsis found on Goodreads)
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...
34 Pieces of You was quite a bit different than what I was expecting, but not any less good. It is reminiscent of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reason's Why, but less emotional and wrenching in many ways. This isn't due to the skill of Rodrigues versus the skill of Asher as a writer, either. The tone that 34 Pieces of You takes is quite different from that of Thirteen Reasons Why.
Despite Ellie being the 'you' in the title, the novel is mainly focused on the other characters - their relationships after Ellie's death -- both with each other and with others -- how Ellie was a part of their lives and impacted them before her death. Ellie's a character in 34 Pieces of You but she is the 'you' not an 'I.'
The narrative moves between the before, the after, the earlier before and the later after, not in a linear fashion. It not only makes for interesting reading but it was really great to see how a character was from the point when everything started (Ellie's death), follow them later, then see how they had been, and then see how they later were as well. I enjoyed it much more then if we had started before Ellie's death, followed through until she died, past that until the end. It made the character development so much better.
I love, love books where characters and their relationships are done well and this is one I adored. It didn't have the emotional impact -- at least until the end, for me -- that I was expecting and the notes were a smaller part than I expected but I that was all okay. It was okay because that wasn't the book this was.
What 34 Pieces of You *was* was a book looking at Sarah, Jake, Jess, and even Tommy and Lola and how Ellie and her death (and life) effected them. They way that Carmen Rodrigues wove their lives and relationships together was fantastic. Character A might be one thing to Character B but then they were also this other, unexpected thing to Character C -- and, maybe, something small to Character D, too. They were a small group of teenagers, most of whom had spent the last several years growing up together, and the way their lives intersected felt very real and true.
As I said, the book as whole was not quite as emotional as I was expecting (given the subject matter). There was a particular part, close to the end, however that I really, truly felt connected and I was glad those characters had that moment.
I very much enjoyed 34 Pieces of You and look forward to more from Carmen Rodrigues -- and recommend this one!