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Review: Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Some of the Parts
Hannah Barnaby

Genre: YA ContemporaryOrgan Donor
Hardback: 304 Pages
Publication: February 16, 2016
by Knopf BFYR



Sometimes bad things happen, and we are not the same when they are over.

For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she's okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers so far, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. But when Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, it only takes two words to crack the careful façade she’s built around herself:

ORGAN DONOR.

Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never confided to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back.


Review

Some of the Parts deals with a heavy topic: death of a family member gone too soon. I think that part of what draws me to this genre is the fear of losing a loved one.

I haven't had to go through the grief of losing a family member so close to me, so I can't begin to fathom the mix of feelings one goes through. I don't want to imagine how it would feel to lose one of my immediate family members. I think that is part of my fascination with books like this. They give my insight into the emotions and struggles that one goes through upon losing a family member. They give me a safe place to explore loss of a loved one.

The beginning really pulled me in. It's very emotionally driven, especially given the guilt that Tallie feels over the death of her brother. Of course, we don't find out the details until later. All I'm going to say is that her feeling is certainly understandable. I just wish that her brother received more than the meager characterization he did. Tallie seems to deeply admire her brother and think the best of him, which is weird to me. I have a brother, and I certainly don't think he's all that (though I do love him). As all we have to go on is Tallie's claims, I don't see any evidence that her brother was who she claims he was. I would have liked to see more flashbacks—or at least reminiscing on Tallie's part.

Outside of Tallie's brother, the character development wasn't done well. I really wanted to connect with Tallie; after the initial pages, however, it was very very hard to do just that. Tallie's later actions make no sense to me at all. While her actions are understandable given that she seems to lose control of her sanity, I don't know where or why she's losing her grip on reality. In the end, I lost connection with her. I'm also bothered by the fact that there is no real romantic development. This guy just seems to fall in love with her out of nowhere. Not to mention the development with the friend who just drops out of the picture after her startling confession. Or the fact that it turns out that her brother also had a broken relationship (and that his girlfriend and "best bud" turned out to be the people that they were).

What drew me to this story in the first place was the family aspect what with Tallie searching for a connection to her brother after his death. Tallie's actions, however, serve to alienate her from her living relatives (her parents), from real connections to the people who love her (like her friends, though I'm still wondering what exactly was her relationship to her one kind of friend), and from moving forward. This is a novel about losing oneself in an obsessive desire to pick up the pieces after losing a loved one, and most of the healing will come after the last words of this novel.

All in all, I'm happy that more recognition is being given to organ donation, something that can really save lives. I just couldn't connect with the characters and their story, though Some of the Parts is definitely one to provoke discussion given the open-ish ending.

In the box below are links to my reviews of some novels on loss of family that I enjoyed much more.

A copy was provided by Random House for review

Rating: 2 stars


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