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.
Review: All the Broken Pieces is a quick and effective novel in verse about a war refugee coming to terms with his past and his future. In 1977, 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 is adored by his adoptive family and he realizes he has a gift for pitching, but he is constantly faced with prejudice by those around him who hold him responsible for the deaths of the young men they lost in the war. The fractured theme runs effectively throughout the book from his biological family, the bodies and hearts of the Vietnam vets, as well as the state of the United States who is broken up due to political beliefs. Unlike the other novel in verse books that I've read before, the individual poems aren't strong enough to be read independently, but that's only issue I had with this book. I think this book would be a great read for those who are looking for a refugee point of view about war and assimilating in a new country.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: Matt's nightmares are filled with disturbing images of war. There are also some racial slurs sprinkled throughout the book too.
If you like this book try: Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
Description: If you ask Simon Sharp how his parents died, the 14-year-old New Yorker will tell you King Arthur killed them. Obsessed with Camelot, the two scholars perished in a plane crash en route to an archaeological dig in England.
Simon spends two awful years in an orphanage before his uncle surfaces. He offers Simon residence at a creepy mansion in Scotland where every shadow hides a surprise— including a girl, Maille Rose, who flickers in and out of view like a ghost. Maille warns Simon he’s in danger and, oh yes, he’s a descendant of King Arthur’s powerful knight, Lancelot. Uh. What?
Review: Camelot Kids contains 4 parts to this story, you can buy them individually or all in one book. The first part of this story kicks off on a good foot by introducing us to Simon and his adventure to the world of Camelot. I like how the author used the Camelot story as a jumping off point and created a new story of its own. Orphaned at a young age, bounced around foster homes and finally ending up with a rather odd uncle. Soon Simon finds out that the Camelot stories are indeed real and that he is a descendant of the famed knight Lancelot. This is where the story gets interesting and starts to really unfold. We also get introduced to a different time of Merlin, an old shadowy figure that has different plans rolling around his head. In addition to a nice solid read the illustrations in The Camelot Kids Part 1 are also great and eye catching. Overall, I found The Camelot Kids Part 1 to be an enjoyable fast paced book full of adventure, mystery and suspense, sure to grab the attention of middle grade aged kids (adults too) who are a big fan of Rick Riordan and is looking for something to read while waiting for The Sword of Summer to be released.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.
If you like this book try: Knights of the Lunch Table series by Frank Cammuso, Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve