Burg, Ann. 2009. ALL THE BROKEN PIECES. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545080924 [Suggested Grade Levels 6- 10]
Twelve-year-old Matt Pin is adopted by a loving American family and is becoming the star pitcher on the school baseball team. While outward appearances indicate he is assimilating beautifully into his new surroundings, hints of confusion and inner turmoil reveal themselves. He silently questions whether he would be accepted if people knew his past. His Vietnamese mother sent him away with American soldiers on the last flight out of their country. The complexity of emotions is compounded with racist comments from Rob, who remarks “Frogface, … My brother died because of you.” Sensitive adults delicately give Matt the opportunity to be with others who also have unspoken war-related nightmares and encourage empathy between Matt and Rob. Matt’s story unravels and he begins to comprehend the gift of unconditional love, not only from his American family, but also in his Vietnamese mother’s act of giving him away.
Metaphors are creatively used to make connections, but not in a forced way. “There was a silent pause…like a caesura, the railroad mark on the top line of the staff, telling us to stop, wait, not to rush through.” Through simple verse, there is vehemence of emotion. The reader “feels” the therapeutic lessons right along with Matt. The complexity of character development is noteworthy in this powerful novel in verse.
Role Play: Read the verse with a particular character in mind and act out part of the storyline within a given timeframe. This helps children to develop empathy for others with different life experiences.
Other books about the effects of war on young people:
Kohler, Dean Ellis. ROCK ‘N ROLL SOLDIER. ISBN 9780061242557
McCormick, Patrick. PURPLE HEART. ISBN 9780061730900
By Susie Demarest