Aaron's Reviews > All the Broken Pieces

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
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Nov 10, 2009

it was amazing

Matt is a bui doi, a child born of an American solider and a Vietnamese mother during the course of America's war in Southeast Asia. His mother made arrangements for him to come and live in the United States. He is adopted by a family with another son, who is younger than Matt. The year is 1977, and Matt is learning to live with the guilt of his connections to the war.

His most obvious guilt is tied to the fact that he has left his mother and his younger brother, who was badly injured before Matt;s departure, behind. He is also unsure as to whether his new, adoptive parents want to keep him since he is Vietnamese.

Matt is confronted with a lot of unpleasantness in school. Some of his new classmates lost loved ones in the war, and blame him for that. The mistreatment gets worse when Matt wins a spot as pitcher on the school's baseball team.

Between his parents and his baseball coach, Matt starts to see that those around him care. His coach, in particular, does everything in his powers to encourage the other players to accept Matt as a part of the team.

Some of the most touching moments through Matt's interactions with various local war veterans. He joins his father, who runs a therapy group for veterans, to listen and participate in the sessions. He also ends up taking piano lessons with another veteran.

This is a novel in verse, which really allows for the reader to get the full feel of the emotions involved as Matt navigates through some seriously challenging times. There is no question the book is moving, and the reader can't help but feel Matt's hurt and happiness as he is confronted with challenges and successes.

I kept finding myself seeing this novel almost as a continuation of the story that is the basis of the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. It sort of answers the question of what would have happened had Chris and Kim's son was brought to America.

Today's teens seem to be really interested in the Vietnam War, and this is a very different perspective on that time period.
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