Pieces of Me

( 1 )


When high school oddball and introvert Jessica Chai is killed in a car accident, her parents decide that Jessica would have wanted her organs donated to those who so desperately need these gifts of life. But Jessica is angry about dying and being dismembered. Taking the idea of cell memory to the next level, not only do the recipients get pieces of Jessica, but gets pieces of their memories and lives moving forward—she knows what they know and keeps tabs on their growth, recovery, and development. This begins her...

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Pieces of Me

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When high school oddball and introvert Jessica Chai is killed in a car accident, her parents decide that Jessica would have wanted her organs donated to those who so desperately need these gifts of life. But Jessica is angry about dying and being dismembered. Taking the idea of cell memory to the next level, not only do the recipients get pieces of Jessica, but gets pieces of their memories and lives moving forward—she knows what they know and keeps tabs on their growth, recovery, and development. This begins her journey to learn her purpose as she begins to grasp that her ties to these teenagers goes beyond random weirdness. It's through their lives that Jessica learns about herself, as she watches the lives she literally touched continue to interlock. 

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Jessica, Samuel, Vivian, Leif, and Misty become connected. Jessica, beautiful but disengaged, is attacked by mean girls and bullied by a selfish mother. Samuel must not get sick again. He stays at home and blogs about health and miracles. Vivian has cystic fibrosis. She sees emotions in color and produces special artwork. Leif is a top athlete. After an injury, he must face a diminished future that his parents cannot accept. Misty lives in horrid squalor and is desperate for a new liver that her parents cannot afford. How these diverse lives intertwine is the plot of the book; whether interconnection happens, and what an afterlife may consist of are the questions of the book. Kizer presents profound matters in a readable story about characters who are searching for meaning and redemption. Different points of view are handled with skill, and beliefs are handled with respectful care. The acknowledgments and letter from the author in the back are worth reading. Reviewer: Greta Holt; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—When Jessica is declared brain dead after a car crash, her parents donate her organs, much to her lingering spirit's despair. Jessica observes the four teens who have benefitted from her organs: Samuel, who receives her kidneys; Vivian, her lungs and a heart; Leif, who receives tissue that will help his reconstructed joints; and Misty, her liver. The narration of her slow-motion crash, paramedics' attempts to revive her, and the confusion and chaos at the hospital when her parents learn of her fate is heartrending yet not overdramatic. The isolation, loneliness, and family stress faced by the chronically or critically ill characters is poignantly captured, as is the condescending attitude often shown toward them. Conflicts between the teens and their overbearing parents create sympathy for both sides. The survivors find solace in different ways: Samuel in computers, Vivian in art, and Misty in the public library. Although the emphasis does largely shift to the four beneficiaries, Jessica coming to terms with her death and the fate of her organs is an important aspect of the story. Facts about cystic fibrosis and post-transplant recovery are delivered conversationally without feeling tacked on. Although there are multiple protagonists with complex situations, each teen is fully developed as a character. An author's note explains deviations from the common post-transplant recovery time, and facts about organ donation. Brief information about cystic fibrosis, liver disease, and kidney disease is also included. Recommended for fans of medical dramas or Chris Lynch's Pieces (S. & S., 2013).—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-13
This unusual and affecting story ties the lives of five completely different teens together through the transplant donations of one who dies. The five teens are Jessica, a shy girl with a wealthy socialite mother; Sam, a boy who believes in miracles and spends his life blogging; Vivian, a talented artist with no social life; Leif, a football star with demanding, famous-athlete parents; and Misty, a girl from a poor, immigrant family. Four of them will receive the organs of one who dies. The ghostly donor, always watching each recipient but unable to communicate with him or her, narrates the story as the four surviving teens move toward one another and, eventually, toward the memory of the donor. At last, when one recipient appears to be in serious danger, the rest work together in an effort to help. Kizer keeps her focus on the difficult choices each character faces while effectively penning attractive, three-dimensional portraits of each. If the parents remain somewhat flat, each teen comes across as a realistic, unique individual whom readers will care for. Each has a different choice to make as well: Who will stand up to their parents? Who will reach out to others? And how will the narrator, the dead character, come to peace with death? Different, sensitive and emotional, as well as an effective argument for organ donation. (Paranormal fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385741163
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 457,857
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

AMBER KIZER fell in love with telling stories after one writing workshop; a million pages later, she still loves it.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

        Pieces of Me spoke to me on multiple levels. The premise was

        Pieces of Me spoke to me on multiple levels. The premise was awesome, and the minute I saw the synopsis (especially the longer one on the inside of the book) I added to my list and requested from the library. I have devoured books about illnesses, organ transplants and the like. Lurlene McDaniel is my hero in writing books that make me feel for the characters and something about disease just fascinates me, especially in teens where they are both so deeply effected by the impact on their lives and also at the same time so resilient. They can focus on both facing death or serious illness and still care about finding love. 

        Jessica is a great main character. She felt so invisible but she wanted to be seen. This could have been my autobiography in high school and still some to this day. It was hard to get to know her and know she would die. But living through the kids that received her organs... Well, loved the premise. It took me a bit to get used to the characters, their voices, personalities and the intricacies of their lives. I didn't get a whole snapshot of their illnesses or what led them to get a transplant, but I got enough. And as the book went on, and I was with Jessica in their heads even when they weren't aware that she was looking on their lives, seeing how some of them interact with one another, cheering them on or giving them advice. It helped me to really get to know them and be invested just like Jessica in their lives and what's becoming of them. 

        Vivian with her cystic fibrosis and her more inward personality connected with me first. Despite the huge impact it has on her life, she has adapted. She has a passion for art and that is how she connects with another recipient. Overcoming obstacles and still trying to get the most of her life was a message I enjoyed. Especially her relationship with her dad, and the things that he did to make her therapy and lung exercises seem like a game instead of a chore. 

        I felt so bad for Misty and her living situations. She was in the true ghetto. Getting sick and being hospitalized she felt so much guilt because of the money involved to save her life. It put a big strain on her already poor family and she wanted to take that burden away. She hides in the library and becomes very close to another character Sam. He gives her peace and comfort in a world where nothing felt safe. Her grandma was convinced that she was possessed by a demon, her dad and mom yelled and argued and she never felt safe there, but among the books, and connecting with her online friends gave her a sense of escape. 

       Sam was so wise, and sought answers. He was obsessed with searching out the miracles in every day life, and he created a game and chats in order to raise money for charity. He wanted to believe in a higher power, a purpose deeper than surface level and day to day in life. He provided a lot of comfort for both Misty and Leif, but also learned a lot from them too. 

        Leif is a character that was a whole lot deeper than I expected, and I think that he ended up surprising even himself. He explored life outside of football and really wanted to figure out what in life made him happy and also made a difference. When he meets Vivian, I loved the awkward sweet way they interacted, how they second guessed themselves and the building attraction that they both were convinced wasn't reciprocated. He challenged Vivian to see life beyond today and gave her the courage to live beyond the here and now, and make plans and hope for the future. Because none of us are gauranteed a tomorrow, its not just those with chronic illnesses. Sure, they have a lesser chance of a tomorrow, but they shouldn't deprive themselves of a full life and chasing after what they want. 

         The ending was so fitting and perfect for this story. It was uber emotional and sad in some ways, but also there was a sense of conclusion while still making way for "mores." They realized Jessica had given then a chance at more, and through her death and gift, getting to live more right along with them, something bigger and longer lasting than just herself. Jessica also got her closure and peace, but also a window into what they're doing with their futures. 

    Bottom Line: Emotional story about teens who are connected by donated organs, but lives even more entangled and close than they'd ever imagined. 

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