Title: 34 Pieces of You
Author: Carmen Rodrigues
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 11th 2013
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
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There was something about Ellie... Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance, and kept watch. Now Ellie’s dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are 34 clues she left behind. 34 strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. 34 secrets of a brief and painful life. Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they begin to confront the darkest truths about themselves, they will also find out what Ellie herself had been hiding all along...My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I've been dreading writing this review because I honestly don't know what to say. 34 Pieces of You is exactly the kind of dark contemporary I love: well-written, character-driven, and emotional. But for some reason, I couldn't connect with it. I think it's at least partly my fault: I read this on a plane, beyond tired, and probably wasn't as concentrated as I should have been. This could have been a good book, but I didn't pay it as much attention as it deserved, and therefore didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.
I think part of the problem was the narrative. There's three different narrators, and lots of different times at which parts of the store take place. It was hard for me to keep track of who was talking and when this was taking place, so I kept having to check back to the beginning of the chapter. I especially found it confusing to have to tell apart Ellie's and Jake's family from Sarah's and Jess's, to remember which parents and family situations belonged to which pair of siblings. The voices are different, and I liked getting to know the three narrators, but it was still confusing in parts, although, again, this was probably due to my lack of concentration.
I also thought it was strange how much the title, cover, and description focus on those 34 strips of paper. To me, that just seemed like a very small part of the story; mystery is much less important to the plot than the description makes it out to be. The story is good as it is and doesn't need more mystery or anything; it just bugs me that the marketing of the book presented it as such when that's not really the case.
Honestly, though, those are just smaller complaints. The real problem is still that I just didn't connect with the characters or the story, even though most elements are things I usually love about books. Maybe I'll reread 34 Pieces of You one day under different circumstances, and I'll definitely read any future release by Carmen Rodrigues, but I just didn't love it this time around.