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Book review: All Our Broken Pieces

Book review: All Our Broken Pieces by L. D. Crichton

Publishing date: May 7, 2019

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I didn't think I'd enjoy a sappy love story, but that's OK, because this wasn't sappy. I really liked these believable characters. Kyler was very romantic, and Lennon made for a very good example of how to understand OCD in others.

The OCD portion of the story was handled very well, both normalizing and explaining how it's not normal, or rather when it's not normal... when it interferes or embarrasses or makes others uncomfortable. The facial disfigurement part of the story was not quite as revealing as far as creating empathy, but it did allow for some insight.

Even though most YA novels entail hyperbolic parents, and All Our Broken Pieces is no exception, the author did a good job of reining in the parental extremes and bringing them back down to sensible characters. Any characters are good who can admit when they are wrong, and these adult characters do just that. Graciously, too.

I'll probably shelve this acquisition for my high school library in our "death/drugs/disease" genre sticker category, but it could easily just be categorized as realistic fiction or romance. In any event, I'm looking forward to recommending this title to my students.

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The Soloist by Steve Lopez

This book was so very interesting, so very painful, so very revealing, and gave real insight to the effect of paranoid schizophrenics who live on the streets. Steve Lopez's quick stop one day to listen to an African American homeless man playing violin in a tunnel reverberating with speeding cars, and the sounds of Skid Row, proves to be fortuitous for both men. Lopez's efforts to get this Juilliard trained musician into "safe" housing was met at every turn with Ayer's obstinate will to be "safe" living on the streets. Lopez's compassion, all the people he "meets" after he writes about Nathaniel in his column, are all inspiring only because they get what Nathaniel is like while Steve Lopez tries to defy the odds and work a miracle with this homeless man who becomes his friend while serenading him with Beethoven & Bloch, all the while maniacally cleaning up cigarette butts. I empathized with Lopez's angst, anger,and frustration with himself and the slowness of the mental health system and Nathaniel was just plain suspicious of any attempt at medication. But Lopez's language concerning Nathaniel Ayers' music describes the raw beauty of the notes, chords, and sheet music that kept him living and loving each day to play more and more and more. Such a stirring story about two men who really find so much in happinees each other through their friendship. Thanks OBOS for this great recommendation.
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