34 Pieces of You

Carmen Rodrigues
Simon & Schuster • 2012 • 336 pages
ISBN: 9781442439061
Hardcover ($16.99)
Ages 16 and up

Following Ellie’s death from a pill overdose, those closest to her are left trying to understand what happened.  Through stories told from each of her surviving friends’ perspectives and from 34 written messages left behind by Ellie herself, a sad, angst-driven story of a lonely, love-starved, unhappy young girl emerges.

Make no bones about it, this story encompasses the full gamut of teen angst issues: eating disorders, peer pressure, self mutilation, sex and drug abuse, parental problems, and so on. It is a heavy, at times very dark read. But it is nonetheless an interesting, well-crafted, thought-provoking story. Rodrigues’ characters are well fleshed out, with personalities beyond their individual issues. An element of discovery in the plot and an engaging narrative propels the story forward—this is a quick read

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The ending, while not fairytale-perfect, is hopeful and realistic. Fans of teen angst novels such as Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Simon & Schuster, 1999) should find this novel appealing. Recommended for older, mature teens. This book is an excellent choice for group discussions on the many issues it covers.

—Reviewed by Maria Mena, Youth Services Librarian, Albany, NY