cover image Pieces of Us

Pieces of Us

Margie Gelbwasser. Flux, $9.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7387-2164-4

Written from four alternating perspectives, Gelbwasser’s (Inconvenient) bleak second novel follows two pairs of teenage siblings who reunite each summer at their grandparents’ lakeside community in the Catskills. Star cheerleader Katie and her bookish younger sister, Julie, live in suburban New Jersey with their image-conscious mother who favors Katie, fueling Julie’s resentment. In Philadelphia, abusive Alex and his sensitive younger brother, Kyle, live with their mother, who has turned to stripping since their father committed suicide. When Katie is raped by her boyfriend and his friend, the boys threaten her with a video of the act. During the summer, the teens attempt to leave their problems, pasts, and even identities behind, but find it difficult to do so. This is a very grim portrayal of teen bullying, sexual abuse, and misogyny—Alex is unrelentingly cruel in his opinions of and treatment of women, and Katie suffers tremendously throughout. While some characterizations feel over-the-top (Alex, as well as Julie and Katie’s mother) or underdone (the teens’ grandparents are barely present), it’s an otherwise painfully believable of four teenagers struggling under intense social pressures. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.)