Reviews /

All the Pieces of Me

Authored by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
Published by Scholastic

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Having enjoyed the earlier Ways To Be Me and having shared it with our SEND team I was pretty sure that All the Pieces of Me by the same team would be a good read. Ways to Be Me clearly captured the sound and feel of what it means to be autistic as some of my younger students kept asking me if I had any more of these books. The content was strong and captured what life felt like for these young female students. I enjoyed the pace of the novel but found the delivery just a little clunky. Well, in this most recent publication there is nothing clunky and everything is beautiful. The language choices are lovely, the narration is convincing and the narrative is authentic and moving. At one point I found myself welling up with the poignancy of the delivery of a quite painful time in this young protagonist’s life.

We often hear or read people say, ‘every teacher should read this’, but really, ‘Every Teacher Should Read This’. All the Pieces of Me presents an authentic school experience (one grumble I have is that the back cover says that Year 9 can be tough and yet this book focuses on Tally’s Year 8 experience). A pet peeve of mine is MG and YA being written by someone who seems to have walked by a school once or twice. It’s not the case here – I found myself taking notes about how long our lessons should be and how we might manage lesson transitions better. This novel felt like a real student’s experience in a real school environment.

Tally’s story is told authentically, as well. The presence of smart phones at lunchtime soon might well be a thing of the past but their presence rules the lives of these preteens and provide a strong reason for getting rid of them in schools. The peer pressure and the internal pressure to be like everyone else also felt really life-like. Tally’s need for friends even when they aren’t nice to her connects with many people’s experiences of struggling in school to find out where they belong and who they are. It was lovely to meet several versions of people who bucked this trend who didn’t feel like unicorns – although one’s representation as a unicorn did make me smile.

And, quite frankly, it’s a really engaging story. There was enough tension and conflict to make this a jolly good read as well as a jolly important one. I will be sharing it with the same girls I shared the last one with and encouraging our library and SEND team to buy several copies. It’s a great resource and a wonderful story.

Selected for the Empathy Lab 2024 Collection