A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this powerful first-person story reveals the nearly universal fears of adoptees as well as the horrors of war experienced by a child. Vietnamese Matt has to deal with the prejudice of Americans while the war is still raging -- and memories of bombings and other traumas are fresh. A subplot deals with the difficulties that many veterans face when returning home at a time when post-traumatic stress disorder wasn't yet recognized. Told in free verse, this book can be a good companion to students studying the Vietnam war, though parents may need to provide some context -- and guidance -- for readers at the younger end of the spectrum.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Matt has lived in the United STates for two years when his nightmares and fears finally catch up with him. He can't 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. A boy on his baseball team hates him because his own brother was killed in in the conflict. 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 Matt 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. He also learns that even adults need help with forgiveness.
Is it any good?
Written in free verse, the abbreviated chapters of ALL THE BROKEN PIECES make the intense subject matter a little easier to digest without diluting its powerful, unforgettable story. Younger readers may need some context -- and may have trouble tracking the number of characters here -- but this is ultimately a powerful book that depicts the horrors of war and the redemptive powers of a family's love, whether adoptive or biological. It also deals with the common fears that adopted children have about being rejected by their new families and the questions about their old one.
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