All the Broken Pieces - Cindi Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
What if your life wasn’t your own?
Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.
Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is? (Description from Goodreads)
~ * ~ * ~
'All the Broken Pieces' was one of my most anticipated reads for 2012. When I found out Cindi had a YA contemporary hitting the shelves, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it (I even stalked the postman a little when I knew the book was in the mail) After all that waiting, I can tell you it met expectations and more.
Olivia Stein's past is a mystery - not in a way that the reader isn't aware of her past, but that she literally has no clue what her life was like before waking up to an unknown couple telling her she'd been in an accident and that they are her parents. With no memory of who they are or what she went through, it's a lot to take in. It's bad enough not remembering who you are or how to act, but this is the least of Liv's problems. When two different voices fight for attention within her mind, bringing with them memories of forgotten lives, it's enough to drive a person mental. I loved Liv's tortured and mysterious past, it's something I always like seeing in YA contemporaries - main characters having something to overcomes and I really enjoyed seeing this in 'All the Broken Pieces.'
Liv's memory loss drove me crazy; not because she was left to relearn the things most people take for granted, like tasting junk food and watching blockbuster movies, but because I was dying to find out what happened to her before her accident cause amnesia. We get hints and teasers of her other life and you can sort of guess what happened, but when the answer hits you won't believe it. You better be prepared to pick your jaw up from the floor!
I mentioned before that Liv goes about recreating memories and experiences she missed out on. The biggest part of this recreation involves the secretive and incredible Spencer Hale. A loner at Liv's new school, Spencer becomes the one stable part of Liv's life - despite a shaky start and a few less than friendly moments wrapped in jealous. I loved Spencer's relationship with Liv. In the beginning it was all based on friendship and helping Liv to experience situations she couldn't remember; but, like all good contemporaries, it grows into a romance you don't want to miss. The easy, playful and funny way Liv and Spencer interact made me smile and wish for more scenes with just the two of them; and learning about Spencer's own hidden past during their time together added an extra mystery element to the story. Part of why I loved these two so much was because their interactions reminded me of a mix of my favourite Sarah Dessen books ('Along for the Ride' and 'Just Listen') - bike rides, a list of essential experiences, musical educations and a relaxed, sweet relationship - Who could want anything more?
The only part I had an issue with was the end. It wrapped up very neatly. For something this huge (and you'll understand when you read the book) I wasn't expecting an easy end. But having never been in that situation before, I can't say I know how it should have ended instead. I did love that there's an epilogue that gives us a glimpse of the life to come; it made the ending more whole.
I adored this book and I hope there are more contemporaries in Cindi's future.
(Originally posted on Goodreads)