Emma did not go to war looking for love, but Adam is unlike any other.
Under the secret shadow of trauma, Emma decides to leave Iraq and joins Adam to settle in Colorado. But isolation and fear find her, once again, when Adam is re-deployed.
Torn between a deep fear for Adam’s safety and a desire to be back there herself, Emma copes by throwing herself into a new role mentoring an Iraqi refugee family.
But when Adam comes home, he brings the conflict back with him. Emma had onsidered the possibility that her husband might not come home from war. She had not considered that he might return a stranger.
Pieces of Me is a novel told in 3 separate parts: pre-deployment, during deployment and past-deployment, told through Emma’s POV.
I enjoyed this poignant novel as a whole but the first part is definitely my favorite because it’s the most happy and romantic part of the novel. It’s here that Emma works (as a civilian) in the International Zone (or IZ) where she spends her days helping people with their visa applications and meets Adam. I not only loved reading how they met but I felt I was invited to a very interesting sneak peek behind the scenes of camp life in a war zone. As an outsider you never really know what goes on at a base camp and how you should imagine their daily life. Reading this made me feel as if I was momentarily there too. This author must have true knowledge because it was written so naturally, it certainly felt as a slice of true life. People have quite normal lives and just like everybody, they do things outside of work too. Emma also goes to the bar, follows yoga lessons and spends her Friday afternoons at the pool with the friend she made (not only to Emma, this felt contradictory to me too that you could simply sit around a pool in a war zone). The war is never really far away though, sometimes there are bomb threats and is the danger close by. It was touching, hard and sad to read how the war can tear that little bubble apart in an instant.
In the second part of the novel Adam leaves for another mission and Emma stays at home. Adapting to a normal life clearly isn’t easy. Emma admits that there’s a longing to be there, to go on an adventure too, that is difficult to admit. She stays behind and is trying to find a purpose. She placed me in her shoes effortlessly and I could feel her loneliness, how she doesn’t belong nor here nor there and how she misses her husband. When he finally comes back in the third part something has changed though, he’s maybe even further away from her then when he was really overseas. The novel shows how grief and PTSD can cause a wedge between the tightest of couples. I felt an overwhelming sadness for Adam and Emma and what the war did to them, and I wished nothing more than that they would find each other again.
This was a great and interesting novel. The only remark I want to make is that I expected the ‘pieces of glass’ that Emma collects over time (hence the wonderful cover) and which I thought was a wonderful and clever idea in the book would play a bigger part in the end and that they would form a pinnacle, a closure of sorts, an acceptance and gratefulness for every important moment she had. I don’t feel this received the attention it deserved or that I really saw what they became in the end.
Pieces of Me is a touching novel about the impact of a deployment on a couple. They go through a myriad of emotions and were able to touch me too. It was really well-written and I can recommend this novel if you enjoyed The Flight of Cordelia Blackwood.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, Legend Press, in exchange for my honest opinion.