Rodrigues, Carmen 34 Pieces of You, 325 pgs. Simon Pulse, 2012. $16.99. Language: R (52 swears, 27 “F”); Violence: PG-13; Mature Content: R
Ellie is beautiful, enigmatic and no one seems to be able to resist her pull. Drawn into her orbit are her best friend, Sarah, her brother, Jake, and Sarah’s little sister, Jess. When Ellie dies, all three are left to pick up the pieces. They each feel responsibility and guilt for Ellie’s death. As they try to understand what has happened all they have to help them is a box that Ellie had hidden that contains thirty four slips of paper. Thirty four clues to who Ellie was and what pain and secrets explain her brief life.
This book is yet another entry into the relatively new genre of hipster lit. The characters are shallow and one dimensional with problems and challenges that read like the author used a checklist created from an intro to adolescent psychology class. Topics included are eating disorders, depression, sexual abuse, sexual identity confusion, drug and alcohol abuse, blended family angst, promiscuity, and suicide. All of the problems are treated superficially and piled on for effect with no genuine exploration or insight. The box of clues from the book’s title adds little to the overall story and does next to nothing to illuminate the struggles of the main character.
HS—OPTIONAL. AEB Social Studies Teacher