Title: Pieces of Me
Author: Natalie Hart
“We walk and he talks and I don’t interrupt him. The words spill from his mouth as if they are secrets held long inside. Perhaps it is a relief to share the things he’s had to think about. I have thought about them too.”
Pieces of Me is a novel which surrounds a couple who met in Iraq, while both working out there. Emma, originally from England, worked to help Iraqi people move to America to escape the conflict in their own country, while Adam, an American, is a medic who worked in Special Forces. After hitting it off when they meet, Adam eventually convinces Emma to move to Colorado with him and marry him. But, inevitably, Adam is re-deployed, and Emma is now left with more than a hole in her life. Not only does she miss her husband, but she envies him; she would love to be back in Iraq, helping people and having more of a purpose than she does in Colorado. Emma counts the days until Adam returns, but when he does, he comes back a changed man, and Emma’s not sure what’s worse: not coming back at all, or coming back a stranger.
I think what I liked was how powerful this book was without actually having many “war scenes” or seeing much of the front-of-line conflict. By doing this, Hart really manages to show the ricochet effect the conflict can have on everyone around it. In Iraq, in America, and to all the people who are connected.
I also really loved Emma as a protagonist; far from the stereotypical “solider wives” who surrounded her, she aches to be useful and to help other people, a characteristic which made her very likeable. I really like that no matter the opinion of those around her, she still wanted nothing more than help the people who had been impacted most by the Iraq war: the Iraqi people.
The relationships of the characters were also very realistic and helped add a plausibility to the narrative. I especially enjoyed the way Emma interacted differently with her old colleague, and her Colorado friend Kate; both of them could relate to her for a different reason, but Emma behaved differently around them both. I think this also helped reinforce the importance of friendships when we are most vulnerable and low.
Overall the book had a very honest sense to it; Hart wasn’t afraid to show the harsh truth of war, and of sacrifice. While I didn’t like the ending, I agreed with it because it was understandable and it made sense for Emma. I’m glad that Hart wrote this book so readers can see the effects of war, the devastating effects it can have on those it impacts, and most importantly the surprising way people learn to survive.
Thank you to Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.