Another Little Piece

Hey, guess what started last Friday? That's right, NaNoWriMo, the write a 50 thousand word novel in 30 days challenge. Add that pressure to the eight classes I am taking and the end result is a column destined to be about twenty words long.

On Halloween, the night before the total madness began, I picked up a copy of a YA novel called Another Little Piece written by Kaye Karyus Quinn. I didn't get it because I thought it was going to be any good; I got it because someone was complaining that the book had too much violence (and profanity), something they absolutely did not expect. Since the title font looks like it could have been written in blood this seemed a little odd to me.

The horrible side of my personality thought I would check the book out of the library and decide if it really was impossible to tell if it held violence and gore. (I also thought the references to razors and mind control or whatever on the back cover might be a clue.) If there were plenty of clues I would think snarky thoughts about the person who complained. But all of these judgy plans went out of my head when I started reading the story. It was terrific.

A girl staggers up to a mobile home wearing a trash bag over her clothing. She has been drawn there by a feeling, a very strong feeling, an odd feeling. But even odder is her complete lack of memory and the fact that she has been missing for a year. But not just missing for a year; it's been a year since her bloody and screaming appearance at a party, where she showed up for moments before disappearing while all the lights went out.

The girl is quickly identified, as she has been missing for such a long time and there has been much attention paid to her case, but she feels no connection with her name or the people identified as her parents. (In fact she calls them the mom and the dad, but not to their faces.) When she gets back “home” she finds herself in the middle of a scandal at her high school, stalked by her nemesis and drawn to a boy with a horrible reputation.

On top of all of these problems she also deals with the fact that by all medical wisdom she should be dead. She has severe head injuries, including permanent brain damage. Her continued existence and ability to function at a high level baffles the experts. When some of her memories start to return things become even more confusing. Really beyond confusing as there appear to be supernatural elements to what is going on around her. What's a girl to do?

Another Little Piece is a book I meant to read for only a few minutes, while I was waiting for a file to load. Instead I ended up turning everything electronic off and doing nothing but read for the next few hours. I read it from cover to cover, stopping only to feed my pets.

The novel is thoroughly engrossing, with a badly flawed heroine who is extremely easy to identify with. There were some things that really rubbed me the wrong way, mostly towards the end, but not enough to make me put the book down. (This ties into my complicated feelings about bigoted behavior in fiction. Are we mirroring what is actually happening around us and calling attention to it? Or are we modeling violence and oppression, thereby inciting the very thing it is trying to spotlight? I remember watching a show that was supposed to be anti-bigotry, but the language that the characters used was so hurtful that I had to turn it off. I for sure would not have wanted my kids watching it when they were younger.)

Which reminds me, was there a lot of violence, gore and profanity? There was some. If you put Go Dog Go at one end of a line and American Psycho at the other this book would be much closer to the Go Dog Go end. I think I counted less than ten “swears” and the violence and gore is no more than you would expect from the cover.

You can read an excerpt, or maybe even the entire novel, here:

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is a series of (fake) fliers from Apple Cabin Foods. These aren't your ordinary foods, they have names like Jar Devils, Tidepoolers, and Cinnamon Johnnies. They are from the twisted mind of Sean Tejaratchi, who has a Tumblr called LiarTownUSA, which is not only not safe for work, it may be unsafe for anyone, at any speed.