by Ann E. Burg
Wow. All the Broken Pieces
is written in free verse, not your typical page-turner format. But this debut novel drew me into the story immediately. The narrator is Matt Pin, the child of a Vietnamese woman and the G.I. who deserted her. Matt’s mother literally thrust him into the arms of soldiers riding the last helicopter out when the U.S. withdrew. Matt left behind his mother and his infant brother, who was hopelessly mangled by a land mine. Dreams and flashbacks haunt Matt as he adapts to life with an adoptive family in a small American town.
The casualties of Vietnam are still fresh to people in Matt’s hometown, and he struggles with racism on his school baseball team. The perspectives of wounded vets, Matt’s family and his teammates are genuine. The title’s “broken pieces” is symbolic of the way war shatters the lives of everyone involved, civilian or soldier. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.