All In Pieces – Suzanne Young – Simon Pulse – Published 8 November 2016
That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.
The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.
Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.
And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.
I thought All In Pieces read like a cross between Simone Elkeles and Sarah Dessen. It had a tragic backstory and tough current circumstances but with a good dash of family, romance and hope. It was incredibly enjoyable to read, and ran the whole gamut of emotions from anger, outrage, swooniness (yes, I think that can be classified as an emotion), sadness and just a bit of joy.
Savannah stabbed her ex-boyfriend through the hand with a pencil. He totally deserved it. But it means Savannah has to attend a special detention school, which makes caring for her little brother that much harder. But she has great friends and a crush on her new classmate, the ridiculously handsome and very out of place Cameron. So it makes singlehandedly balancing her alcoholic father’s rants, her brother’s tantrums and her aunt’s distaste a little easier.
Savannah can take care of herself, as she so eloquently proved to her ex. But she has a lot to handle and it’s not easy for her to let people into her life. She doesn’t trust easily, and for good reason. That’s why she runs so hot and cold with Cameron. Sure, he seems nice and talks to her (and only her), and her best friend is all for encouraging Savvy to give him a chance, but letting him into her life will mean revealing all her secrets and vulnerabilities.
I loved Savvy, she is a great mix of tough, brave and on the edge of falling to pieces. She cares so deeply about her brother and her friends. The romance between her and Cameron is sweet and edgy. It takes forever for Savvy to give him a chance and she is usually insulting Cameron or arguing with him. Definitely no insta-love here. Attraction, sure, but Savannah has a lot to work through before she will trusts any one again.
In a way this book didn’t provide an ending that I was expecting. I’m not really sure how I expected this book to end. Or maybe I simply didn’t want it to end as I was enjoying reading it too much. Either way, I though it was a great way to tie up this emotional story.
While the romance is a key part of All In Pieces, it falls in the background a little, with family, friendship and Savvy’s own internal processing taking the focus. I think it was the perfect mix. I love romance stories with heart, strong characters and tales of determination, love (both romantic and familial) and self efficacy, and All In Pieces provides this perfectly, as well as touching on some other key topics from drug and alcohol addiction, treatment of kids with disabilities and family breakdown. And yet this book, which could have been depressing or an emotional landmine, brings a touch of hope and light.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Social issues, special needs, high school, juvenile detention, friendship, romance, siblings, family, family breakdown, abuse, alcohol and drug addiction.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, s***, f***, sl**, wh***. References to drug and alcohol use and addiction. Sexual references and implied sex scenes, no details. References to violence and descriptions of fights, abuse and assault.
Published: 8 November 2016 by Simon Pulse.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 272 pages.