{Review} PIECES by Michelle Davidson Argyle

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The following review contains SPOILERS for THE BREAKAWAY.
While PIECES can be read as a stand-alone, it IS a companion 
that takes places two years after THE BREAKAWAY.

If you'd rather read THE BREAKAWAY before stopping on this review...

My review of THE BREAKAWAY,

O P E N I N G   H O O K:


Naomi looked up from her sketchpad and smiled.  On Wednesday mornings, Finn was the waiter at the Java Lounge cafĂ©   He had surfer hair--thick, wavy brown locks swept across his forehead.  It fell into his face whenever he looked down.  Naomi wondered how he kept from running into the tables.  Somehow, he never did.

"Well?" Finn asked, leaning closer to look at her drawing.

She slid her arm over the entire picture.  She and Finn always talked when he brought out her order, but he had never asked her about her drawings before.  It was new territory for their casual friendship. "She's a character from a novel."

"Oh?" He leaned even closer, the carafe in his hands tipping dangerously close to her sketchpad.  "Which novel? Is it one you're writing?"

She inched the sketchpad away from him.  A smirk crossed her face.  "You know I don't write.  It's a scene from a favorite book, that's all."

The smell of the coffee in the carafe was stronger than the regular smell of cinnamon rolls, flaky pastries, and whipped cream drifting through the Java Lounge in the mornings.  The coffee was straight black.  It reminded Naomi of waking up in the mornings at the house where she had been held captive for a year.  She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to will the memory away.  It was over.  Over.  But she could never get the house out of her head.  Their house.  Eric's house.  She didn't know what to call it, even two years after her escape.  They had made coffee every morning, so coffee would always remind her of them.  She decided from now on she would call it the house and leave it at that.

Michelle Davidson Argyle has previously stopped by A Backwards Story for a guest post on BONDED, which compiles together three of her fairy tale retellings.  She's also shared a guest post on her version of Cinderella, CINDERS.  Don't forget to check out my review of both CINDERS and BONDED!

While you could read PIECES as a stand-alone without ever picking up THE BREAKAWAY, knowing Naomi's history prior to PIECES will help you understand her mental state as she attempts to fit the pieces of the puzzle that is her broken life back together and move on after the traumatizing events that resulted in her kidnapping.  PIECES deals with the repercussions and ongoing struggles of a girl who escaped from extraordinary circumstances but is unable to fully move on in life.  Michelle Davidson Argyle explores Naomi's mental state and refuses to sugarcoat things, resulting in a more realistic portrayal of a situation that is sometimes idealized in literature.

It has been two years since Naomi managed to escape from her kidnappers in THE BREAKAWAY, yet they remain with her in small ways.  The way Eric made coffee and eggs, the way Evelyn painted her nails and taught her to cook; small things remain in her daily life, reminding her of her time in captivity.  Most of all, Naomi can't bring herself to forget about Jesse, with whom she fell in love during her time at the house despite the fact that he was one of her captors.  Naomi's slowly moving on and in therapy now.  Everyone tells her that her attachment to her captors is a result of Stockholm Syndrome, but while Naomi knows this to be true, she also knows that she and her captors truly grew to care for one another in a way that only they could understand.  She's slowly begun repairing bridges with her parents, especially her mother, and has even started attending her mother's alma mater, Harvard University.  When she finds out that Jesse has been let out early on parole for good behavior, her entire life is in upheaval once again.  Naomi has to figure out the truth behind her own feelings.  How well does she know Jesse?  Does she truly love him--and if so, would she follow him to Italy?  If she does, she'll leave behind her fragile new relationship with her parents and her budding friendship with a guy named Finn who has been supportive of her decisions.  But if she doesn't, will she miss out on the greatest love she's ever known?

Naomi suffers so much in PIECES.  She's completely mixed up and doesn't know the truth behind her own feelings.  Her captors did a true number on her when emotionally binding her to them during her time in captivity, and she finds it hard to break free from the invisible shackles still clinging to her.  I would go so far as to say that Naomi is also suffering from PTSD, and while she's been on the road to recovery, Jesse's early parole brings everything back and takes away so much of what she's gained for herself.  Her emotional state is very easy to sympathize with; all I wanted to do was give her a big hug.  Naomi grows so much and learns a lot about herself.  She comes out a stronger person by the end of her journey with us, but will always be marred by her past.  PIECES is a great look at what  happens after a person has experienced a tumultuous situation and the way s/he must re-integrate with the nuances of daily life.  So often, books end after the event and don't focus on the repercussions  or if they do, they gloss over all the psychological effects that traumatic events can have on a person and make it seem as though such events never bothered the person, which makes the book unbelievable   PIECES balances this well, and provides a close-up look about one girl's shattered life as she attempts to move on and discover her own identity in life.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Those railroad tracks remind me of one specific scene from PIECES, though the scene occurs at night and Naomi isn't alone.

Even so, the cover shows the model looking pensive.  The way the railroad tracks fade out as they disappear into the distance mirrors a second path leading away from the model, one she's debating whether or not to take.  This correlates to the story and Naomi's mental state, and is a wonderfully understated way of describing the book.

I like the coloring of the photography and the way the title is pulling from slivers of red on the model's undershirt and shoes.  The red is darker and lends a more somber tone to the cover.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  PIECES
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Release Date: Feb. 14, 2013
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing

Staying in love can mean running away...

Two years after watching her kidnappers go to prison, Naomi Jensen is still in love with one of them. Jesse will be released in a few years, and Naomi knows college is the perfect distraction while she waits. But when her new friend Finn makes her question what is right and what is wrong, she begins to wonder if Jesse is the one for her … until she discovers he's out on parole. Naomi must sort through her confusion to figure out where love and freedom truly lie—in Finn, who has no connections to her past, or Jesse, who has just asked her to run away with him. 

PIECES is a companion to THE BREAKAWAY and can be read independently, if desired.


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