All In Pieces by Suzanne Young- 5 Stars!
Today’s Tea Choice: Target Brand Pumpkin Spice Coffee (Finals week!!)
Teen drinking/drug abuse, abusive/neglectful homes, sexual abuse, relationship abuse. This book definitely has some difficult scenes to read with caution!
Genre: YA Contemporary
That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.
The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.
Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.
And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.
There are so many young adult novels nowadays that are proud to be "clean," but I find these books unrealistic and quite frankly: boring. Being a teenager is about experimentation, learning about yourself, and going through some rough times. Suzanne Young captured this sentiment perfectly in this gorgeous yet tragic contemporary novel.
What I loved:
POV: This novel is written in a first person POV through Savvy's eyes, which really allows the reader to feel her intense grief, anger, and resentment toward her situation. It came across as incredibly realistic!
Characters: Within the first chapter, we see how tight the small familial bond is between Savvy and Evan. It was so endearing to see how these two stuck together through some tough times! I also connected with Savvy; when I was a teenager, I had a lot of pent-up anger issues that left me angry, ready to fight, and always guarded against anyone who tried to be nice. It was a great character ARC to see Savvy's slow progression with Cameron, and nothing was rushed.
Dialogue: The dialogue was authentic and nuanced with plenty of real jargon/cursing. This may make some people uncomfortable, but it shows the dark side of high school along with cliques, social hierarchy, and abusive situations.
Plot: Throughout the novel, I loved reading about Savvy's resilience and self-independence. It was very inspiring to read how she took care of herself and her brother despite coming from a broken home with an alcoholic father. Things in the plot take a turn when a character overdoses, and her 2 closest friends must travel without Savvy to get him help. This shows young girls the importance of being independent in the worse situations and how to handle your emotions. One of the other major themes is the importance of allowing love into your life, especially when someone wants to help. Savvy has to swallow her pride and open her heart to Cameron.
What needed improvement:
This book was excellently written, so nothing needed improvement. Out of personal preference, I would've loved to see the moment where this all began, when Savvy's anger breaks out and she stabs her ex's hand.
For some, this book has a lot of realistic, complicated, and difficult themes/scenes to take in, which can be triggering or quite upsetting. If none of the topics above bother you, then I recommend checking out this novel!
Authors Can Learn:
- The importance of writing teens in realistic, authentic situations (not the clean world stuff!)
- How to create an impressive character arc
- The importance of first person POV in contemporary stories
Readers Will love This For:
The excellent way Young handles such sensitive topics, showing how growth and love overcome the most difficult situations in life.
I give this book 5 stars!