Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 16th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Hardback obtained from Publisher
Sometimes bad things happen, and we are not the same when they are over.
For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she's okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers so far, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. But when Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, it only takes two words to crack the careful façade she’s built around herself:
Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never confided to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back.
Hannah Barnaby’s deeply moving novel asks questions there are no easy answers to as it follows a family struggling to pick up the pieces, and a girl determined to find the brother she wasn’t ready to let go of.
~ You will either need a Costco sized case of tissue or a cold, cold heart to get through this book. The ending practically gave me a sinus infection, and I mean that in the best possible way. I like books that make me feel things without feeling like the author is trying to be emotionally manipulative.
~ The summary of the book lead me to think that this was going to be road trip kind of book- but it’s not. It takes time for Tallie to even learn that her brother was an organ donor, and then it’s not like she’s magically able to track down all the recipients- which I liked. Everything happens in a very realistic time frame.
~ My feelings toward organ donation are what made me want to read this book so much. I’ve been an organ donor since I got my license, most likely because I grew up a huge fan of ER. I’m old enough that organ donation wasn’t something most people did, or thought all that much about. I remember having conversations with friends who were honestly uncomfortable with the subject. It’s obviously changed over the years- now I think in a lot of states you have to decline to be an organ donor- instead of requesting to be one.
~ Tallie is deep in her grief over her brother’s death. Barnaby nails the feelings of grief, and she shows how uncomfortable people can be with people who have suffered loss. Tallie has pretty much lost all her old friends, and clings to Mel, who isn’t afraid to mention the word “death” around her and doesn’t handle her like she’s glass. Mel also makes the effort to show up. A lot of people do the opposite- they give space to a friend who has lost a loved one, leaving it up to that person to initiate contact. Don’t be that friend that stays away.
~ right away I like Tallie, as she tells of a short story she wrote in class- about the President of the United States having of a dream of his mother naked and being so disturbed by it that it eventually leads to nuclear annihilation- which is the start of her friendship with Mel, who really liked her story.
~ Tallie refers to her former friends, Amy, Zoey and Fiona as “The friends who used to star in the movie of my life until the movie jumped genres from comedy to tearjerker.”
~ Tallie and Amy have some serious tension between them- and the story did not go down a familiar path. There’s a few confrontation scenes between the two former bffs and I loved how Barnaby handled the character of Amy, it was unexpected.
~ Speaking of unexpected, the characters that live in this book are quirky- not unrealistic quirky, but different. From Chase’s adorable fascination with Harry Houdini and his big black binder, to Mel’s habit of playing taxidermist on roadkill, to the organ recipient who wasn’t exactly likeable- which I loved because jerks and shallow people are just as likely to need kidneys and lungs and hearts as nice, good people.
~ Like in most families, the death of a child has hit Tallie’s parents hard. He was everyone’s favorite, and her parents are struggling to find their footing, and disagreeing on the best way to do it. I loved that Tallie essentially spied on her parents- reading her mom’s journal and checking her dad’s internet browser history- not because she’s trying to invade their privacy but because it’s the only way she can have insight into how they’re coping. Unfortunately they spend a lot of the book not seeing how Tallie was dealing with it.
~ Although this is a feelings kind of book, there’s also humor and lightness- like when Mel drags Tallie to the seance and they run into Chase and the three get kicked out, or Mel’s taxidermy art, or some of Tallie’s observations at the Bridges meeting. Also, Cranky Andy.
~ Things don’t magically get better at the end, just like grief doesn’t magically go away. But I think Tallie’s story is one that can offer a lot of comfort and support to those who have suffered loss, and to make people who haven’t yet had to deal with loss a lot more sympathetic. I mean, that’s part of why we read, to learn about life outside our own experiences.
~ I liked this book so much more than I thought I would, even though I suspected it would be good. I kept expecting the author to go down a certain road, but Barnaby took me on some back roads that offered a better journey.
Tallie- dealing with the aftermath of her brother’s death and the guilt of being the one who survived.
Mel- Tallie’s new best friend, mostly because Mel is the only one who made the effort to reach out to her. Budding taxidermist.
Chase- Harry Houdini obsessed new boy who befriends Tallie, he has his own secrets (no, they aren’t the one’s you think he’s keeping).
Nate- the brother who died, the brother who Tallie is doing her best to keep alive in her memory, even if she can’t bring herself to say his name.
Amy- Tallie’s ex-bff, Tallie thinks Amy blames her for Nate’s death.
Cranky Andy- manager of Common Grounds and Tallie’s employer, at least for awhile.
Absalom- psychic who had tiny, baby like hands.
Ms. Doberskiff- runs the Bridges Through Grief to New Beginnings support group that Tallie is forced to attend.
Toby, Jackson, Margaret, Bethany- other members of Bridges. Chase shows up at one of their meetings.
Gerald R. – a lung transplant recipient who kicks off Tallie’s journey to find the parts of her brother still in the world.
Matty- full name, Matthew Pendergrass the Third- Nate’s MP3 player that Tallie keeps like a secret.
There were many moments, but Tallie finding the letter in Nate’s code book, which leads to a confrontation later on, was a big plot twist.
Also the weird passive aggressive scene Tallie has with her brother’s former best friend, Jason Rice, in the convenience store.
Stop the Clock:
Some of the Parts was so good. I loved Tallie, I loved how the author plotted things out, and what Tallie saw and the things she missed and the cracks in her foundation. I liked that the characters were flawed, that in trying to help they sometimes did the wrong thing, because that’s life. I liked that Nate felt like a real character, even though he’s dead before the story starts. I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since I finished it.
Some of the Parts gets a Midnight Book rating of: