All the Broken Pieces: A Novel in Verse
Two years ago, Matt Pin was airlifted from Vietnam. Now living in America, twelve-year-old Matt tries to lead a normal life; he plays baseball, takes piano lessons, and spends time with his family. But he also faces racist comments at school, has nightmares about the war, and feels guilty and worried about his mother and brother, who are still in Vietnam. Worst of all, he believes that his adoptive parents want to get rid of him.
JLG Release: Jun 2009
Awards & Honors
ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010; IRA Notable Books for a Global Society 2010; Booklist The Best of Editors’ Choice 2009; 2009 Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth, 2009 Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth
Praise & Reviews
Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal
Junior Library Guild
Matt struggles to define himself, both because he is an adolescent and b All the Broken Pieces is messy, in the way that life is messy. First-time novelist Ann Burg recognizes that life is a series of fragments—rarely a cohesive whole. Matt’s story exemplifies this idea, as do the short, varied poems that make up the narrative.
Matt struggles to define himself, both because he is an adolescent and because of his unique racial and cultural background. Though Matt was born in Vietnam and looks Vietnamese, his biological father is American, his adoptive parents are American, and he lives in the United States. Matt also craves acceptance. He constantly fears that he’s too much of a burden on his new parents and that everyone sees him the way his teammate, Rob, does: “My brother died / because of you.”
Burg deftly handles complex subject matter that ranges from Matt attending a Vietnam Veterans’ meeting to remembering personal trauma. “I carry my brother’s / bruised and wailing body / in my arms / and all the colors . . . wash into a red mud.” Throughout the novel, Burg effectively portrays emotions and relationships without delving into sentimentality.
All the Broken Pieces candidly portrays a boy trying to find his place in the world. As Matt realizes that he’s likable and capable—he pitches a no-hitter, organizes a dinner for an ill coach, and gets along well with the Vietnam vets—he starts to feel comfortable with himself and notices that the people around him like him, too. This realization is cathartic, not only for Matt, but also for the reader, who will root for him along his journey.
5" x 8"
Level 4.1; Points: 2;
Scholastic Reading Counts
Level 5.2; Points: 6;
Potentially Sensitive Areas
Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur, Violence: Graphic Descriptions
Memory, Vietnam, The Vietnam War, War evacuees, Parents, Brothers, War injuries, Baseball, The park, Music, Piano lessons, Team tryouts, Prejudice, Taunting, Bullies, The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," Coaches, Feelings of guilt, Pitching, Victories, Errors, Vietnam veterans, Support groups, Sharing painful experiences, Cancer, Nightmares, Banquets, Coaching changes, Team-building exercises, Finding common ground,