Monday, October 24, 2011

All the Broken Pieces

Title: All the Broken Pieces
Author: Ann E. Burg  
Publisher: Scholastic Press 
Publication Date: April 2009   
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel in Verse   
Summary: Two years after being air-lifted out of Saigon, a young boy shares his story of adjusting to his new life while missing and remembering the life he left behind. He not only tells his own story but the story of others dealing with how they have been impacted by the war. 
What I Think: This book was close to home for me because my own dad was a soldier in the Vietnam War. He didn’t talk about his experiences much while I was growing up but when I was in college he finally got help from the VA and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He had been dealing with it on his own ever since coming back from Vietnam but had never been diagnosed. I will never forget when I took a psychology class in high school and read the few paragraphs explaining PTSD in my textbook. I instantly thought of my dad and knew he had PTSD. Because he didn’t talk to us about Vietnam, I didn’t bring up my revelation in psychology class. It wasn’t until a few years later when he sought help himself that I was able to write a letter to explain my experiences with my dad growing up and how I knew he had PTSD. 

While I wasn’t there to experience the war or what life was like in the U.S. during and after the war, I think Burg does a wonderful job of describing how people might have been feeling and how a Vietnamese boy might have been treated here in the United States. I’m glad to see more and more books set during or around the time of the Vietnam War. It is bringing awareness to life during that time period and what people were experiencing from different perspectives. 
Read Together: 6 - 12 
Read Alone: 6 - 12 
Read With: Shooting the Moon by Francis O'Roark Dowell, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt, Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Inside Out and Back Again By Thanhha Lai 
Snatch of Text:  
"My fingers stumble
through the scales
and through 
'The Gypsy Camp.'

They crowd the keys, 
landing in two spots
at the same time.
They slip, clank, and clash
into sounds
that aren't music.

Watch, Jess says calmly
when my fingers freeze
in frustration.

Jeff's fingers are
bigger than mine, 
but they know how 
to touch each key,
one at a time.
They unlock each sound

Jeff doesn't make mistakes.

His fingers brush 
across the piano keys
like branches
of the tamarind
swaying in the wind.
How can such big hands
make such quiet music?' 
p. 40-41
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Personal Narrative 
Writing Prompts: Write about poem that describes a time in your life when you were learning something new. How did you learn? How did you feel? Write about a time in your life when you did something for the first time or went somewhere for the first time. 
Topics Covered: Family, Friends, War, Loyalty, Emotions, Feelings, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,  
Translated to Spanish: No


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