Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Pieces of Me by Amber Kizer

Pieces of Me
Amber Kizer
Delacorte Press
US $16.99/$18.99CAN
ISBN 978-0-385-74116-3
291 pages
Amber Kizer’s story is about organ donation and the lives of teens who are affected by it. As such it is not primarily a fantasy; it’s more like an illustrative story with some philosophical and theological existential discussions thrown in.

Jessica, a teenaged loner with an overbearing mother, would rather be left to herself. Except that she dies. And pieces of her are sent to various recipients. She spends the rest of the book hovering near them, attempting to converse with them, trying to comfort them with sage advice, and being something of a dead guardian angel.

After Jessica's accident, the book leaps six months and this is troublesome. Jessica's reaction to her death is not explored at all. That is problematical because Jessica's behavior as an all-knowing super-helpful dead person is so at odds with her formerly living self that the reader wonders how such a change occurred.

Some books are difficult to review, especially if the book is from the heart of an author who has health issues. At least, I find those books hard to review because the book is obviously a heart-child. The book seems written primarily to show the importance of organ donation and it does that. The characters are the typical teenagers one finds in young adult novels; they find life especially difficult

I had expected this to be more of a fantasy. But, aside from the fact that Jessica is invisible, not much else is fantastical. When alive Jessica felt there was no purpose to her life. Now that she is dead, she strives to become part of the world. . .even if vicariously.

The living characters are all in emotional or physical ruts. They include Samuel, a religious boy who tries to see small miracles in life; Vivian, a girl who has cystic fibrosis and who is loved by; Leif, the gorgeous school athlete who begins examining himself when he get an injury; and Misty who feels very guilty because someone died in order that she might get a liver.

The lives of all the characters are caught in snapshot like moments. It gives the story a cinematic after-school special episodic feel but it also made this reviewer wish the story had been only about one or two characters. Connecting to the characters becomes difficult because they almost feel like symbols. And although I felt some of the insights given by the characters to be simplistic or maybe theologically light psychobabble, they may prove helpful for some children who need to accept or verbalize the emotions caused by their health issues.

Recommended for children who are going through a hard time because of health issues.

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