Undeniably raw, Siobhan Ellis
Pieces of You
21 October 2020
“It was one of those books where you had to read one more chapter, then one more.”
Pieces of You, Eileen Merriman’s first published novel, is exactly as Rebecca McQuilten puts it when talking about one of the books in her extensive collection. After reading one of her other novels, Catch Me When You Fall, I had high expectations for Pieces of You that Merriman did not fail to meet. Easily my favourite book by Eileen Merriman, Pieces of You deserves all of the praise it receives; it is a beautifully told, undeniably raw, and extremely emotional read. The novel will have you clinging to hope that the romance between the two teens will last, and will even have you shed more than a few tears at the end.
Rebecca McQuilten is a fifteen going on sixteen year-old girl that has recently moved from Dunedin to Auckland. Moving between these two cities is a massive change. The climate, friends, and life in general has affected Rebecca, or Becs, majorly. Personally, moving was a huge deal to me; making new friends, discovering where you belong; I found it all very difficult which made relating to Becs effortless. Rebecca’s pain was more than understandable as the first few lines in the novel revealed that she cuts herself in an attempt to numb said pain. Meeting her new neighbour, Cory Marshall, will change her perspective, and life, forever.
Eileen Merriman does an outstanding job in tackling relevant, tough teenage issues facing not only New Zealand, but the world. Themes such as first love, coming of age, self harm, identity, and family are clearly in mind when reading each and every chapter of Pieces of You, revealing Eileen Merriman’s intended audience, young adults. As the novel progresses, the reader becomes attached to the romance that blossoms between Rebecca and Cory, not wanting it to end. The reader witnesses first hand Rebecca’s change; growing from a shy young teen to a brave young woman throughout the span of one year. Rebecca’s change is inspirational, bringing to life the idea that high school is filled to the brim with both good and bad times and that teens should never bow to peer pressure.
As with previous works by Eileen Merriman, Pieces of You is more than just your basic love story. Both Becs and Cory had their own separate demons that they need to face in order to accept themselves and the love they deserve. Eileen Merriman does a brilliant job in making Rebecca relatable to her intended audience, seeing as her problems are mostly around high school and self acceptance. Cory was much harder to relate to personally, but all the same, his problems are extremely relevant to teenagers in today’s society, New Zealand’s especially.
Pieces of You is a brilliant read. It’s beautifully written, undeniably raw, and heartbreakingly relevant to society today. Pieces of You is easily my favourite novel by Eileen Merriman. She does an excellent job in hooking the reader in and keeping them interested until the very end. Merriman had me clinging to hope that the young love between Cory and Becs would last. She also had me keeping a box of tissues at my side. I would recommend Pieces of You to anyone in search of more than just your usual love story and someone who is willing to shed more than a few tears when coming to the conclusion of the brilliant, raw, and heartbreaking Pieces of You.
- Siobhan Ellis is 16 years old and attends John Paul II High School in Greymouth.