Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

“All The Broken Pieces” by Ann E. Burg

Scholastic 2010

Another great find on my hunt for the best contemporary historical fiction, this sparse novel in verse must be what they mean when they describe something as a “deeply felt” work. It is a simple story of a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy with a good arm for baseball who had been adopted into an American family after the Vietnam war, now trying to come to terms with his past. But under the surface, there is so much more. Every word is loaded with meaning. Every sentence is a gem.

The boy, Matt  Pin, haunted by memories of Vietnam and his family there, tries to find solace in music and to make sense of his “now-life.”  The book questions the war, as the other Vietnam books do. But it also questions the treatment of Vietnam vets returning home. The spare story calls to question humanity’s quick tendency to judge, and invites the reader to consider compassion.  The descriptions of the war are horrifying, and yet because they are honest, so very appropriate for the middle-grade audiences the novel is intended for. My only regret upon finishing this sad and touching work, is that it was a bit on the short side. When I put it down, I found myself wishing that I could have sunk deeper into the world Ann Burg has painted. I wished I could have spent more time with Matt and his nemesis Rob, with his caring “now-family” and yes, even with the painful memories of his past.

P.S. A couple of weeks ago I had an incredible honor of meeting Ann in person. We sat on the bench by the beach enjoying a reprieve from heat just before dusk and chatted about her book, her life and all things writing. She talks the way she writes, like a poet. That interview is coming up next week!!


July 22, 2010 - Posted by | Book Impressions | , , , ,


  1. This is quite a find! I added it to my wish list.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | July 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. I am glad, Medeia! Let me know what you think!!!

    Comment by Katia Raina | July 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hi, I am looking for novels for my year 7 class to read in English. Just wondering at what age you think this novel is suitable for?

    Comment by Amander | June 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi, this book sounds great for year 7! How old are your kids? If I remember correctly, Matt the main character is 11 or 12, and this book IS for middle graders. Pefect! it’s nice and short too — and a lot to discuss. I say you have a winnner! Drop me a line and let me know how the teaching goes, how the kids react to this book etc. Maybe I’ll pass the info along to Ann!! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | June 20, 2011 | Reply

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