Thursday, March 19, 2009

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

When Matt was 10 he was airlifted out of Vietnam. His mother gave him to American Soldiers and told them to take him to America. Two years later Matt is still having vivid heart-stopping nightmares and is unsure about his place in his adopted family. He doesn’t know why his birth mother gave him away or why his new family is having whispered conversations about him. He fears that they want to send him back.

Thankfully, it is nothing of the sort. A family friend, Matt’s piano teacher, who is also a Vietnam Vet wants Matt to attend a veteran support group. Matt has never spoken about his life in Vietnam. After attending meetings and listening to the vets talk about not only what they experienced in Vietnam, but also what happened after they returned home that helps Matt begin the process of sorting out exactly how he ended up where he is. It is raw and emotional. He better understands his birth mother’s motives, forgives himself for his brother’s injuries, learns to trust his new family a little more. It also gives him the strength to reach out to a boy on his baseball team who is particularly cruel to him. After all, they actually have much in common.

Quite simply, this is a beautiful novel. The use of verse is fitting. It is spare and lyrical. It makes Matt’s voice shine. I read this in little under an hour and I was choked up with teary eyes the entire time. Matt’s journey is heartfelt and believable. This is a must read.

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