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All the Broken Pieces (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

All the Broken Pieces (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.5 15
by Ann E. Burg, BookSource Staff (Compiler)

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An award-winning debut novel from a stellar new voice in middle grade fiction.

Matt Pin would like to forget: war torn Vietnam, bombs that fell like dead crows, and the terrible secret he left behind. But now that he is living with a caring adoptive family in the United States, he finds himself forced to confront his past. And that means choosing between


An award-winning debut novel from a stellar new voice in middle grade fiction.

Matt Pin would like to forget: war torn Vietnam, bombs that fell like dead crows, and the terrible secret he left behind. But now that he is living with a caring adoptive family in the United States, he finds himself forced to confront his past. And that means choosing between silence and candor, blame and forgiveness, fear and freedom.

By turns harrowing, dreamlike, sad, and triumphant, this searing debut novel, written in lucid verse, reveals an unforgettable perspective on the lasting impact of war and the healing power of love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Using spare free verse, first-time novelist Burg (Pirate Pickle and the White Balloon) beautifully evokes the emotions of a Vietnamese adoptee as he struggles to come to terms with his past. Although he loves his American parents and new little brother, Matt misses the family he left behind two years ago, in 1975, when he was airlifted out of Vietnam. He feels guilty for leaving behind his toddler brother, who was mutilated by a bomb, and yearns for his birth mother, who pushed him "through screaming madness/ and choking dust" into the arms of soldiers. ("My parents say they love me./ He says/ I'll always be his MVP./ She says./ I'm safe, I'm home./ But what about my mother in Vietnam?") Matt's baseball coach and Vietnam vet piano teacher help ease his pain, but it is the patience and unconditional love of his new parents, gently emerging throughout the story, that proves the strongest healing force. The war-torn Vietnamese village that appears in Matt's recurring nightmares sharply contrasts with the haven he has in America. Burg presents lasting images of both. Ages 11-up. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This is a beautifully written novel in verse from a first time author. Matt is a young Vietnamese boy who was airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975. Two years later, living in the U.S. with his adoptive parents and little brother Tommy, Matt is plagued by his guilt over leaving Vietnam and his biological brother and mother, unsure how long he will be welcome in the home of his new family, and worried about some of the boys at school who seem determined to blame him for what happened to their brothers or fathers during the war. Added to that is Matt's fear of rejection; his biological father was an American soldier who promised Matt's mother that he would return for her and his sons but never did. Matt has wonderful support, though, in the form of his adoptive parents—who are more than willing to help Matt find out what has happened to his Vietnamese mother and brother—his baseball coach and his piano teacher, a Vietnam veteran. Matt's insecurities feel real throughout, and the manner in which he resolves some of his issues are true to the character and the nature of the text. There is also the feeling that he will be prepared to handle other life challenges as they come about, and this is the real strength of the book. This is a must have in any middle school library, but it could also be used effectively with Walter Dean Myers Fallen Angels or with The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien to present another aspect of the Vietnam War. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8

In 1977, 12-year-old Matt Pin lives a fractured life. He is the son of a Vietnamese woman and an American soldier and was airlifted to safety from the war zone. Adopted by a caring American couple, he has vivid and horrific memories of the war and worries about the fates of his mother and badly injured little brother. Matt's adoptive family adores him, and he is the star pitcher for his middle school baseball team, but there are those who see his face and blame him for the deaths of the young men they lost in the war. The fractured theme runs the course of this short novel in verse: Matt's family, the bodies and hearts of the Vietnam vets, the country that is "only a pocketful of broken pieces" that Matt carries inside him. Ultimately, everything broken is revealed as nonetheless valuable. While most of the selections read less like poems and more like simple prose, the story is a lovely, moving one. Use this in a history class or paired with Katherine Applegate's Home of the Brave (Feiwel & Friends, 2007).-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

Kirkus Reviews
Matt Pin's story, told in first-person verse, opens with the evacuation of refugees near the end of the Vietnam War. Afterward Matt, an Amerasian, is adopted by a loving American family. Two years later, he remains haunted by a past in which his soldier father abandoned him, his mother gave him up and his brother was maimed before his eyes. He suffers deeply from prejudice when he tries out for the school baseball team and from his misunderstanding of both his biological and adoptive families' motives. Through the efforts of two veterans, Matt begins to understand that his mother gave him away because she loved him, not because he was culpable in the crippling of his brother. In recognizing the analogous suffering endured by others touched by the war, Matt begins to resolve the conflicts of his spirit. Graceful symmetries between brother and brother, father and son, past and present, guilt and forgiveness shed light on the era and the individual. The verse form carries highly charged emotions and heavy content with elegiac simplicity. A memorable debut. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Ann Burg worked as an English teacher for ten years before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with her family.

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All the Broken Pieces 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
PadenS1 More than 1 year ago
This is about a young by named Matt who is Vietnamese and has to deal with people at school and on his baseball team being mean about him being mean. While the war is still raging and memories of bombings and other traumas are fresh. Matt has to deal with the difficulties that many veterans face when returning home at a time when post traumatic stress disorder wasn't yet recognized. What I liked about this book is that it is a novel in verse. So it is kind of a fast read. Also I like this book because it makes you not want to but the book down so you just want to keep reading it. I recommend this book to people in either 7th grade or 8th grade there are not any like super hard words that kids in that grade wouldn't understand.
gilkeson-L More than 1 year ago
All the Broken Pieces is about a Vietnamese boy who gets brought to America. A family adopted him and he goes to school and gets bullied because he is from Vietnam. He tries out for the baseball team and makes it. Kids don't like him cause they hear their parents talk about the war and things. The Vietnam war just got over and everyone is mad at them. I liked this book cause it is about baseball and many other things. I like it cause it gives a little bit of information about the war and I thought that was pretty cool. I like how the baseball team begins to respect him and realize his talent. This book isn't just for baseball fans. It can also be for people that are interested into war and culture. I think that this book would be good for anyone that like cliff hanger books and really like reading. This book is really short and is a good read for anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling ang gripping story. Though a quick read, the text is thick with ideas that are rich in history and relevant today. The issues addressed in the story can lead to deep and important discussions and I plan on using this book in my classroom.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Matt Pin was airlifted from Vietnam at the age of 10 and adopted by an American family. He is now in seventh grade and has adjusted well to his new family. He remembers the early adoption classes and meetings when he was learning to speak English, and he's glad they helped him remember the customs and traditions of his culture. His American parents now have a biological son, but Matt has always felt loved and appreciated. The downside is that Matt also remembers Vietnam. He hasn't forgotten the sounds, the smells, and the horrors of war. He knows his father was an American soldier, but he's not sure why he left his mother behind. Should he want to find this missing father or just put it all in the past? He knows his mother told him she loved him and that was why she sent him away, but how do you give up someone you love? What haunts him the most is the younger brother he left behind. Matt can't find the words to share the tragic story that separated him from the toddler. His loving American parents hope time will heal the many wounds created by the awfulness of war. Their encouragement, along with that of another Vietnam vet, the game of baseball, and Matt's interest in music, work together to start the healing process. ALL THE BROKEN PIECES is the first novel for author Ann E. Burg. Written in verse, the spare language brings focus to the raw emotions felt by all the characters. Burg examines the effects of war from many vantage points as she involves her readers in this turbulent time. Even readers without a connection to this controversial war will come away with an understanding of the widespread damage done when war is chosen over peace.
DSW More than 1 year ago
One of the best new books I've read this year. Quick read, but stays with you. Ann Burg's ability to communicate such a powerful message in so few words using free verse poetry is amazing. A great book for the classroom. I'd also recommend this book for book clubs (kids and adults) that want a quick read with lots of depth and complexity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an American combat soldier, who served in Vietnam, it was clearly evident to me, during my first 11 months of service, who were the real victims of that war…my fellow soldiers who served heroically. Then I visited an orphanage in Saigon during my last month in Vietnam. I never once thought of children suffering in that war but it was clear to me after the orphanage visit that the REAL victims of that war were the children. As soldiers, we expected trauma. As children growing up in Vietnam, during that war (and the preceding French version), children experienced horror that is indescribable. Parents and siblings killed, orphans left homeless, sometimes limbless, sometimes tragically fried by our indiscriminant use of napalm but all left with emotional scars that probably never healed. One thing we had in common with the children was our own inability to recover emotionally from the scars deeply entrenched by that war. Unpacking those emotions took decades for many of us with many more never recovering from not only the trauma associated with Vietnam but the blame implemented by our careless peers upon our return home. All the Broken Pieces is an extraordinary piece of literature that puts the emotional pain clearly in view then slowly establishes healing. It was the story of Matt’s inner trauma that plagued his life until a baseball coach and Vietnam veteran’s mentorship began to set the stage for Matt’s healing. This book should be read by everybody who served in Vietnam and to everyone who would like to understand the complex emotional issues that tormented both children and soldiers of that war. My heartfelt thanks to Ann E. Burg who wrote this healing masterpiece that aloud me to repair my inability to cry after so many years. And my thanks for all of the teachers, including my youngest daughter’s English teacher, who require their students to read and discuss this extraordinary book. Read it and encourage your children to read it...it is AMAZING! Thank you again Ann and thanks to the publisher for understanding the importance of publishing this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MishMill More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The message of acceptance, tolerance and hope, set during the aftermath of Vietnam, was quite moving. Matt is a compelling main character, a Vietnamese adoptee struggling to adapt and be accepted in America. Ann E. Burg's writing is great. The free verse is wonderful! Buy this book!
cantstopreading39 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I picked it up while waiting for my granddaughter and realized I would be sobbing in the children's department if I didn't finish it at home. The realization of the back story and the main character's confusion at the beginning was so moving. I later found the book moved to growth and satisfactory resolution through loving and supportive relationships. The writing was excellent, quick moving and deeply felt. The young narrator's point of view and understandings felt real as he struggled to understand his two worlds: the Vietnam he left behind with mother and brother and war, and the America that was so different and did not accept either refugees or returning soldiers well. This book was in the children's department and seems to be viewed as a children's book. It is entirely appropriate for adult readers as well, perhaps enhanced by our memory of the period. Younger children who read this should do so with a caring adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is okay but it needs more specific details
SamuelD0 More than 1 year ago
All the broken pieces is a book about a 12 year old Vietnamese kid who is living in american with his adoptive parents after the war in his home country went down, and he can not stop wondering why his Vietnamese mother gave him away for adoption when he was 10, what happened to the little brother she kept with her, why his American father never returned for them, and when his American parents will send him back. he is sent to school and he gets bullied because he is Vietnamese, he tries out for the baseball team and he makes it. A boy on his baseball team hates him because his own brother was killed in in the conflict in Vietnam. His piano teacher also served as a soldier in Vietnam and won't talk about it. Then a trip to a veteran's group shows him more sides of the war than he knew before, and a new coach forces his teammates to work together. In one summer, Matt lives through a painful season and finally finds safety and the understanding that loving his new family doesn't mean forgetting his first family. what i really kind of liked about this book was that it was a quick read and along with that a really good book not the best book that i have read but its is pretty close, when i was reading this book i couldn't put it down because it was that good. If i were to rate this book from a scale of one to ten ten being the best i would give it a 7 or an 8. if i were to recommend this book to anyone i would most likely recommend it to people from the age of 12 and up because it is a little more advanced book and it has lots of vocabulary that people younger than the age of 12 would not get or understand, over all this is a really good book so read it.