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What is it about a novel in verse that just kicks you in the stomach? At ten years old, Matt was airlifted away from his mother and little brother in Vietnam and taken to America for a “better” life. He is simultaneously plagued with memories of his war-filled Vietnamese childhood and unable to remember the details of the mother and brother he loved. Matt is trying to find his place and live his life, but the fallout of the Vietnam War around him is a constant reminder of his inability to truly life in either of his worlds. We follow Matt as he joins a baseball team, finds peace at the piano, and attends a support group for struggling Veterans, and each experience is more beautiful than the last. Matt’s internal dialogue is rich and poignant, but even more affecting is the juxtaposition of what he thinks versus the little that he shares with his adoptive parents, teammates, and beloved piano teacher. Matt is the child that we have all taught that will shrug away from the soft touch on his shoulder, the kind words of affirmation, despite needing them more than anyone else. This book served as a reminder for me that people do not have a quota of sadness – you do not get passed over for extra tragedy just because you have already had your helping. Beautiful and sad, All the Broken Pieces is heavy but quick, and easily accessible to male readers. Kwame Alexander drops this title in his other books, making it an easy one to suggest when readers come to you after finishing Booked, desperate for something like it.
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