Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Drama Publication.Date February 11th 2014 Pages: 304 Published By: Delacorte Press Author Amber Kizer Pieces of Me on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
A new voice answered in clipped business tones the color of suitable dark blue (Pantone 19-3921). "She will not make it out of the hospital this weekend. It's simply not reversible with current methods of treatment. She hasn't responded to anything. She needs lungs. A heart. Now."
I'm that girl. That's me.
I didn't know if it was the bizarre ride behind the ambulance at speeds I'd never dreamed of...
Or if it was seeing that girl lifted out of the ambulance and rushed through silent doors into chaos...
Or if it was white coats hooking up machines, shouting "Keep her going. Parents are on their way!" But one second I didn't know what was happening, and the next I knew I was watching my life from outside of myself.
When Jessica Chai dies in a car accident, her overachieving mother decides that the only way to make sure her daughter's death doesn't go to waste is to donate her organs to those who desperately need them to survive. Jessica's body is dismembered, pieces of her are taken and transported miles away. Not ready to move on, Jessica's spirit lingers, watching those who received her organs, observing their lives. She becomes a silent witness to their recoveries and she begins to realize that her seemingly unimportant life affected others deeply, and her tragic death miraculously helped save numerous lives.
Pieces of Me is a very emotional novel full of thought-provoking observations and poignancy. It's a story that offers an unusual and highly original take on death and afterlife - one full of hope and positive energy. Jessica's death brings pain, emptiness and the feeling of unfairness, but it's never deemed meaningless or a complete waste. Her death, as unexpected and heartbreaking as it was, is not the end of Jessica's existance. Her soul (or something close to it) lives on in the pieces of her donated to others.
While Jessica's death is a very important event of the plot and it's through her eyes that we get to know all the characters, it's the organs' recipients that are the main focus of the story. It's their lives, their every-day struggles, problems, hopes, dreams and plans for the future that we get to explore. Each of them received an incredible gift - a gift of life and a chance at the future - and they're all trying to live up to the expectations and make the most of it. Not all the characters were terminally ill prior to receiving Jessica's organs, but they're all profoundly affected by the donation. And we get to see just how much their lives change. They all go through difficult times and their journeys are very emotional and affecting, not to mention eye-opening.
To me, Pieces of Me is a very important book. Organ donation and all the bioethical issues surrounding it is a subject of ongoing debates. Different groups have different views on whether it's a beneficial, morally acceptable practice or not. Issues surrounding patient's autonomy or religious beliefs are just two of many things taken into consideration. It's a complicated, often controversial, and very emotional (for all parties involved) subject, and I myself am not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I am all for saving lives and giving people second chances, but on the other.. if someone close to me, say family member, died in an accident.. would I be able to make the decision for them? Should I be able to do that?
In her novel, Kizer explores many different aspects of organ donation, as well as the consequences and benefits of it. And she does it with remarkable sensitivity and thoughtfulness. She shows us how being able to receive Jessica's organs affected the lives of many teenagers who otherwise wouldn't have survived. She gives Jessica's death a new meaning, almost as if saying that, even though Jess is no longer around and she won't be able to make her own dreams come true, she will still live in the hearts and memories of all the people she helped save, connecting them with an invisible thread; and her tragically short life will not be a waste. It's a difficult subject to tackle, but I think Kizer really nailed it.
Pieces of Me is a brilliant, powerful and profoundly touching novel that explored themes of death, loss, grief, hope and destiny. It's a bitter-sweet story, full of pain and sadness, but also happiness and new beginnings. It shows the importance of organ donation and how sometimes even the most tragic and heartbreaking of events can lead to something good in the end.
About the author
Amber Kizer is not one of those authors who wrote complete books at the age of three and always knew she wanted to be a writer. When she faced a rare chronic pain disorder her freshman year of college, she knew she was going to have to learn to live outside the box. After one writing workshop, she fell in love with telling stores and she’s still going strong. Her characters tend to be opinionated, outspoken, and stubborn—she has no idea where that comes from.
A food lover, she plans trips around menus, wishes cookbooks were scratch and sniff, and loves to make complicated recipes—especially desserts. When she’s not reading from a huge stack, she’s coaxing rose bushes to bloom, watching delightful teen angst on television, or quilting with more joy than skill. She takes her tea black, her custard frozen, and her men witty. She lives in the Seattle area with a menagerie of animals that seems ever changing.
An avid learner, she focused on the writing craft and her unpublished works won awards from PNWA, San Diego RWA, and the Saskatchewan Romance Writers. Her first young adult series sold at auction to Delacorte Press with ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME premiering, in hardcover October 9, 2007. The paperback will be released December 9, 2008
The star of Amber’s series Gert Garibaldi has been called “honest, brash, and outspoken” and her books take on traditionally taboo subjects.
The second in the series FROM BUTT TO BOOTY will be out December 9, 2008. Amber currently has three other books under discussion and looks forward to seeing them on bookshelves in the coming years.
Comfortable in the classroom, with kids or adults, she regularly teaches workshops to all levels of writers. Find her on the web at www.AmberKizer.com or www.OneButtCheek.com, watch a movie-style book preview at www.YouTube.com or listen to an audio excerpt at www.booktalkradio.com.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at Random House, one lucky winner will get a finished copy of PIECES OF ME! Open to US addresses only (No PO Boxes, please!)ENDS: 02/24
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