This is a book that I have had in a crate for several months now. I bought it last spring for my school library and took a bunch of books home over the summer to read so I could book talk for my students. Then I checked things out from the public library and I had to get through them before I could look at my own stack. So, last night after I finished The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim (which I haven't reviewed yet), I needed something to read. All The Broken Pieces has been reviewed by many others before me and has been one I thought I would enjoy. The only hesitation for me was fact that it is written in verse. That's not a drawing card usually, yet, I will admit that I loved, loved, loved Out of the Dust and that was written in verse.
This book just read so fast that it was over before I knew it. I loved every single word. While a novel in verse may not be my first choice, it was just perfect in this situation. While I was reading I was trying to envision how this novel would read if was written in the traditional format. There may have been more description, but that really wasn't necessary and the story is perfect as it is.
Matt Pin was airlifted out of Vietnam with a group of soldiers. Now, two years later, he struggles as memories of his life and family in Vietnam continue to haunt him. His adoptive family is loving and supportive, yet he wonders if they, too, will send him away as his biological mother did. Matt decides to go out for baseball, a sport he excels at. When he makes the team he is faced with hatred because he is Vietnamese. His family continues to look for ways for Matt to make peace with his past. Eventually he attends a support group for Vietnam veterans. His father's friend, Jeff, attends, and Matt also meets Chris, a man that his parents used to be good friends with until the war changed him.
There is so much in this short book that I can't put words to. Themes of acceptance, friendship, and loyalty can all be found, as well as a history lesson about Vietnam and its effect on people. Elementary readers will be able to handle this story because of the short text, but still may need a bit of background about Vietnam to make their reading more meaningful. Highly recommended.