Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser
Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.
Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.
Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.
Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was holding my breath for something to make me smile. Yet by the time I was done with it, there was this gigantic weight pressing down on me. The blurb hints at it, but this is a bleak, bleak book. Moments of it hinted at happy possibilities but never really went there.
So, if good books are suppose to make you feel, PIECES OF US just might be stellar. I’m feeling hell lot of things right now. Granted, none of the things I’m feeling right now are all that positive. It’s bleak, dark; the situations scary, then appalling; then the people pitiful, angering, then later disappointing. And the only moment when things do get better is in the end. Yet despite all that, I’m slightly impressed. And why? Because these people as disturbingly damaged as they were, they had me hoping.
Damaged people, the lot of them. Some damaged by their own doing; by poisonous thoughts and petty jealousies brought on by miscommunication and piss poor priorities. Yet there were others among them that had damage done to them. Yet, even when I did feel sorry for them… something always came up later to have me seeing them as coming up short. All of them, victim, and wrong doer alike: coming up short.
Kyle and Alex. Clearly, something was not right. Clearly. Still I wondered what kept them together. And even with those moments that weren’t so damned scary/skeevey, I thought there might have been something good there. Yet, one thing after another just proved how much a victim one was and how misguided (though that is definitely too tame a word to apply) the other was.
Kyle and Julie. Clearly, they were something good (at first.) They were the one bright spot in this book for. At least at first. Yet all those thoughts and assumptions simply didn’t do any good for them. The silence on Kyle’s part didn’t help either. I could imagine so much more from him. And could imagine so much more form her! But throughout the book, it was Kyle who I held out for. There’s good in him… yet time and again not enough was done.
Katie and Julie With a mother like theirs, it’s no surprise things went the way they did. Talk about skewed sense of reality and poor priorities! I wanted to knock some sense in to her. Their father too could have done so much more, if not at least lessened their mum’s impact. Again, his is the case of ‘too little too late.’ Yet if we’re talking damage it starts with a mother living her dreams through her kids, then things getting worse with Katie’s self absorption and Julie’s insecurity. In their scenario, there’s damage done to and by both of them.
Katie and Alex It’s Alex who appalled me. While I did feel sorry for him, his experience and what not. It’s his point of view that distanced him from he. All his whore that, bitch that had me drawing back. Yet in Katie’s eyes (both before and after what happened) he’s all that’s good. And this is what surprised even more about them:
How each of them was hell bent on keeping their view of a certain other intact. Some were hell bent on focusing on the good, blind to any fault of those around them; others still so focused on zeroing in on the bad, never minding what little good there might have been. So damaged. So blind. Where Katie was concerned, Alex was good. Where Alex was concerned, Katie's pure. Where Julie was concerned, Katie was too perfect and had it all...!
Yet even with these people who are so far from perfect, I kept hoping. That Alex would turn out to be that guy after all. Or that Kyle would step up. Or that Julie would snap out of it. Or that Katie would snap out of it too. Or that maybe someone would step in and step up for any, one or all of them.
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