Book Review

Pieces Of Me

Pieces of Me

  • Author: Kate McLaughlin
  • Genre: YA General Fiction
  • Publication Date: April 18, 2023
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: anxiety, mention of depression, mention of bulimia, suicidal thoughts, blood, suicide attempt, mention of self-harm, mention of alcohol abuse, mention of child abuse/sexual assault

The next gut-punching, compulsively readable Kate McLaughlin novel, about a girl finding strength in not being alone.

When eighteen-year-old Dylan wakes up, she’s in an apartment she doesn’t recognize. The other people there seem to know her, but she doesn’t know them – not even the pretty, chiseled boy who tells her his name is Connor. A voice inside her head keeps saying that everything is okay, but Dylan can’t help but freak out. Especially when she borrows Connor’s phone to call home and realizes she’s been missing for three days.

Dylan has lost time before, but never like this.

Soon after, Dylan is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and must grapple not only with the many people currently crammed inside her head, but that a secret from her past so terrible she’s blocked it out has put them there. Her only distraction is a budding new relationship with Connor. But as she gets closer to finding out the truth, Dylan wonders: will it heal her or fracture her further?

The summary sounded incredibly intriguing, and I’ve read two of her other books, so I already know that she doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics in YA fiction. Previous books have dealt with being the child of a serial killer and sex trafficking, and I felt like both topics were handled with care, so I was fully expecting this to be the same.

We’re introduced to Dylan as she’s coming out of what she views as a blackout. She has struggled with alcohol abuse in the past, but stopped drinking six months ago, so doesn’t have any explanation for why she lost time. It only gets worse when she calls her mother and realizes that she’s been missing for three days, not one night as she previously thought. As she’s processing this, stressors pile up. School and fighting with her twin brother, as well as the realization that she has absolutely no idea what happens when she loses time start to be a bigger problem for her, and she starts to actively take steps to get to the bottom of her missing time.

But digging only reveals bigger issues, culminating in a major event that lands her the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. She has no recollection of any trauma during her childhood, but is starting to have vague flashbacks of something happening when she was young. 

As she learns more about the disorder and processes things with her therapist, she realizes that the voices in her head are her alters. I loved how this was portrayed, and how her inner system was explored. While DID was briefly discussed in my master’s program, I’ve never actually seen it in real life, and don’t know much about it. It felt like the author did a lot of research into this, and discussed it in a really careful and sensitive way. 

The way therapy is portrayed in the story felt accurate, and the treatment providers were all so accepting and compassionate, the way providers should be. They worked with Dylan (and her alters) to create a safe and welcoming environment where she was given agency over her life and her treatment program, as well as offered the opportunity to make major decisions, allowing her to regain control over her body and her choices that were denied to her as a child. Her artistic talent is incorporated into her treatment as a therapeutic tool and coping skill.

And while I don’t know much about DID, I loved how it was explored in the story. Rather than being viewed as an illness to be cured, it was painted as a coping skill to protect an individual from an unhealthy and dangerous situation that was beyond their capability to manage at the time. And in treatment, the goal is decided by the individual—for some, integration is the goal, while for others, they learn to live with the system. 

Finally, I especially appreciated how the importance of having supports was stressed throughout the story. Dylan is surrounded by people who support her on the journey of recovery, and while they’re each dealing with their own emotions, she learns to set boundaries for giving them space to process, and them giving her space to process as well. But through it all, they rally around her to let her know that she isn’t alone for any step of this, and they fully support her no matter what. This was a powerful story, and it’s written so beautifully, making Dylan and her family incredibly relatable. 

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