"Homelessness, domestic abuse, and parental abandonment are indisputably weighty topics. Yet in this story of a makeshift family, they seem surprisingly surmountable...Ryan has created a thought-provoking portrait of young people living...on the fringes of society."
"I was immediately hooked into the story. I couldn't stop. This book was so entirely captivating, so real, that I just couldn't put it down. It was physically impossible for me to leave this book for very long, and I'm kind of happy about that, because it's just what I needed...It captivated every little piece of my heart."
"Ryan tackles some serious issues—including homelessness, abuse, and child abandonment...[Her] simple prose and interesting storyline should attract readers (especially reluctant ones)."
"Ryan's exceptionally well-written novel presents issues of homelessness, abuse and poverty, as well as society’s over-consumption and waste. Characters are clearly written, multi-dimensional, strong and believable...A heart-rending and heart-warming glimpse into the journey of a handful of these people, what they need to deal with daily to survive, and how they succeed. And sometimes fail...Highly Recommended."
"An impressively managed text. It presents realistic and richly detailed explorations of a difficult topic without being hopeless...
Pieces of Me is a strong book with much to offer YA readers."
"With characters and conflicts that are sure to interest young adult readers, this book is a good choice for the high school library."
TriState YA Book Review Committee
Maddie lives on the streets after running away from home and her mother's abusive boyfriend. When she meets Q, another homeless teen, the two of them team up, sharing food and sleeping spaces. Living in a small community of homeless people in the parking lot of a mall, Maddie also befriends six-year-old Dylan, but when Dylan's parents leave him with Maddie and Q, and never return, life gets even more complicated. As they grow more and more desperate, Q turns to gambling to support them, and Maddie contemplates whether to continue her struggle on the streets or turn herself and Dylan over to foster care. Dark and gritty, Pieces of Me is a fast read and a timely addition to the canon of high/low literature. Maddie meets many people who are willing to help her, but is realistically wary of accepting help, particularly from the well-meaning workers at a shelter who want to send her back to her mother. Her dreams of returning to school and her determination to protect Dylan make her a sympathetic heroine, though the other characters are underdeveloped and flat. The plot moves quickly, but the ending is predictable and a little too pat. Purchase this title for libraries with large high/low collections or where urban literature is popular. Reviewer: Elizabeth Norton
A gritty portrait of teens and children living on the street suffers from a too-tidy ending. Maddie has been living on the street since her mom's boyfriend started hitting her. After leaving a manipulative church service, she meets Q, another street kid, who offers to let Maddie sleep in his car. Though at first suspicious, Maddie says yes: Q will ask fewer questions than the well-meaning shelter director who wants to reunite kids with their families, and the piece of glass Maddie keeps in her pocket will protect her if need be. As Maddie grows to trust Q, the two forge a sort of family together. An abandoned child soon falls under their care; they rent a squalid apartment from an exploitative slumlord; and a skittish 12-year-old, first offered to Q in a poker bet, slowly warms up to them too. Day-to-day existence is rendered in believable and exhausting detail. Maddie and Q acquire food, manage the stresses of caring for a child and attempt to make enough money to get by. Despite both young people's certainty that foster care would be a worse solution than the life they've cobbled together, the book ends with a sudden turnaround that implies that adults and institutions can always save lives like Maddie's. A sadly simplistic finish mars an otherwise complex survival story.
(Fiction. 14 & up)
Gr 8 Up—A gritty, realistic look at teen homelessness. Unwilling to endure physical abuse from her mom's new boyfriend, Maddie leaves home and learns how to get by. Life is hard, but she is fiercely independent and wouldn't have it any other way. Then she meets Q. They both have altruistic hearts-something rare on the streets-and they team up for platonic company. When a homeless family asks if Maddie would watch their six-year-old son, she agrees. However, the family doesn't come back for Dylan, and now Maddie and Q have a makeshift family. Eventually, 12-year-old Leo also joins them. Maddie's maternal instincts and emotions are spot-on-she is by turns loving, protective, frustrated, and unselfish. She and Q do what they can to provide some semblance of stability for Dylan and Leo, and perhaps the assumption of parental roles is what turns their platonic relationship sexual. Their resourcefulness is quite amazing. However, Q's means of providing for the others is playing poker, which becomes their downfall when the stakes get too high. With her fragile world falling apart, Maddie realizes that she needs to ask for help for Dylan, Leo, and, ultimately, for herself. This story realistically portrays several reasons children and teens become homeless.—Lisa Crandall, Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI