16 March 2010

Pieces of Me by Charlotte Gingras

Thoughts and Reflections:
I quite enjoyed this novel. From the beginning I was curious about the protagonist, Mira. Her story, of a confused and lonely teenager is heartbreaking and hopeful in one tangles mess. The style of the novel was simple and beautiful, even in translation. I loved the use of colour and contrast. I was confused by Mira and her situation. Why on earth she was left to live with her imbalanced mother in the first place is beyond my comprehension! The struggle that she endures, however, is one that creates a sense of hope in a world that can feel so very dark and empty.

I would certainly recommend this author and this novel. I love coming across a new and wonderful Canadian author. It was a quick read. I devoured it in a single day. However, the themes, concepts, and imagery were quite profound. A good read, to be sure!

The Author:
Charlotte Gingras is a French Canadian author. She was born in 1943 in Quebec. The bulk of her writings has been in young adult literature. She now lives in Montreal, Quebec living out her childhood dream as a writer.

Brief Synopsis:
This is the story of Mirabelle, who prefers to go by Mira. She claims mirabels are for eating, whilst Mira means ‘to look.’ And so, Mira is the girl who looks. She lives with her paranoid mother after her parents separated. She expresses great talent as an artist and aspires to become a wilderness artist and writer. At school she is a loner, but becomes friends with Cath, a new student. Her story is one of pain and healing, of dealing with abandonment, loss, and friendship. This novel won the Governor General’s Award in 1999.

Main Themes:
Loss, abandonment, identity, friendship: I believe all of these themes are tangled together in the character of Mira. She experiences the loss of her father twice over, thus tasting the bitterness of abandonment. Her isolation is self-inflicted as a means to protect herself from further instances of abandonment. She is drawn out of her isolation by Cath, and tastes the life and fun of friendship. Yet, as in all friendships, there are ups and downs, which Mira must learn to cope with. And, through all these moments and with the added struggle of dealing her mothers, Mira is growing up and must determine her own identity and purpose in life.

I found one of the strongest moments is when Mira is speaking with Paule about her mother and her life. Paule firmly tells Mira to focus on her art, to never forget her goal to become a wilderness artist and writer. Her goals and personal identity are the only methods at her access to keep her mother from pulling her into a paranoid world of fears and loneliness.

Things I Loved About This Book:

1)Mira: my heart broke for her. She expressed such talent, but lacked the courage to take her life into her own hands.

2)Paule: Paule helped Mira realise her potential and opportunities and life that Mira never thought she could possess. Her sensitivity and insightfulness is stunning.

3)The use of colour and contrast. This book is a work of art in itself and incredibly visual.

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