All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

All the Broken PiecesMatt Pin lives what seems an ordinary life for a 7th grader—he has tried out for his school’s baseball team and is on his way to being its star pitcher, he has parents who love him, and a little brother who adores him. But Matt is not an ordinary boy, not exactly. Born in Vietnam to a local mother, and an American-soldier father who took off as soon as his Tour of Duty was up, Matt witnessed the bombings and brutalities of the War first-hand. His mother had him airlifted to the States, where a wonderful couple adopted him. Now two years later, Matt is haunted by the memories of his biological mother’s ‘abandonment,’ of the bombs dropped on him, and of the wounded little brother he had to leave behind.

This Rebecca Caudill nominee book is told in free verse, which I usually find distracting, but in this case, it works. Its fractured style mirrors Matt’s fractured life. We follow Matt’s nightmares of Vietnam, the hatred of some of his teammates toward him for the slant of his eyes, and even the support group of Vietnam vets he is invited to visit to help them all heal—Matt included.

All the Broken Pieces is definitely recommended for the older reader, since it touches upon war, bullying, wounded soldiers and Matt’s feelings of confusion about loving his new life while missing his old. It also has a lot of baseball but nothing too technical for baseball-phobes.

Posted by: Cindy

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