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I Belong

Review: 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues

Title34 Pieces of You

Author: Carmen Rodrigues

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 1442439068 (Simon Pulse)

ISBN-13: 978-1442439061 (Simon Pulse)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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….

Quick & Dirty: A heart-wrenching tale about the ugly truth in a teen’s melancholy life.

Opening Sentence: It happened on a Saturday.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I wasn’t instantly attracted to 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues when I first picked it up. There is something about the cover that turned me away. But after reading several pages, I was quickly enthralled by the story. Rodrigues writes an emotionally dark story, chilling and powerful to the core.

In 34 Pieces of You, Ellie has left this world, leaving her friends and family devastated and left with many unanswered questions. Ellie was different and learning about her life will emotionally drain you. She is complex, layered with many emotions and complications – too many for a young girl like herself. Despite the smile she may or may not have on her face, deep down Ellie has a dark and depressing soul attached to her. For her brother Jake, her friend Sarah, and Sarah’s sister Jess, they find all of this out a little too late. Only 34 pieces of Ellie’s deepest thoughts are scrawled onto paper, individualized and torn, just like her life.

In a multi-point-of-view format, pieces of Ellie’s life is brought together through the eyes and memories of Ellie herself, Jake, Sarah. Each memory is told either before or after her death. For me, I felt that most of the darkest and earliest memories come from Jake, having the insight that a brother could only have. As a reader, I saw their family dynamic and where Ellie’s problems could have started from. Sarah’s memories were closer to the end, and as a reader, I saw how dark Ellie got. There were some things that surprised me, and not for the better.

With Jess, there was a softer side of Ellie that I was able to see. For the most part, Jess’ memories were from the outside and apart from what Jake and Sarah saw. She wasn’t really a part of Ellie’s life until later on, and it wasn’t as up close and personal like it was with Jake and Sarah.

Rodriques’ world is dark and intense, bringing out the deep emotions from people, and not just from Ellie herself. There are two sides of the story, and it is apparent from the memories and thoughts of each person. There are so many levels of dysfunctional within the story that it’s hard to separate my own personal thoughts with the characters themselves. Rodriques speaks about so many issues, each one a little worse than the first.

Not many authors can do it, but Rodriques has managed to walk the fine line of reality and fiction without doing too much. There’s a nice harmony between the two, despite the topics that she writes about. Ellie’s life is sad and melancholy, but I also saw some happy moments shared between her loved ones. Her life wasn’t always sad and depressing, and Rodrigues’ writing showcased the differences nicely. There’s something to be said about the writing style used. I thought the lyrical prose gave justice to the life of Ellie.

I’m not sure if I got all of the answers that I needed, after finishing 34 Pieces of You. I felt that there could probably have been something more said between Ellie and the others or even between the others and each other. I recommend this book for the realistic truth that Carmen Rodrigues writes about.

Notable Scene:

I stare out the window and think about Sarah. I wonder if she’s doing better. i wonder if I should go to her. I want to tell her everything. I want to let her rub my head until it falls forward in perfect submission. But I can’t… The world has shifted too much, and I don’t know where to go from here.

FTC Advisory: Simon Pulse provided me with a copy of 34 Pieces of You.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.

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Review: 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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