Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle

Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle
Young adult: contemporary, drama, romance
July 2015; Allen and Unwin
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Lucy's life was going as smoothly as any teenager's could. She was in the local swimming club, and loved it; she lived with her parents and her brother, Cam, in the small coastal town she'd known all her life. She had friends, she had goals - she had a life. Now Cam is dead, her parents might as well be - and Lucy can't bear to get back in the pool. All she has to look forward to now is a big pile of going-nowhere.

Drawn to Steffi, her wild ex-best-friend who reminds Lucy of her mysterious, unpredictable brother, and music-obsessed Evan, the new boy in town, Lucy starts asking questions. Why did Cam die? Was it an accident or suicide? But as Lucy hunts for answers she discovers much more than she expects. About Cam. About her family. About herself.

Pieces of Sky is incandescent. Trinity Doyle’s prose are luminous, her narrative voice sincere and endearing. This is a quiet, honest portrayal of a sister and a family grieving, loving and living beyond loss.

Lucy is a character superbly drawn; I feel like I know her personally. Her narration is genuine, emotive and realistic as she navigates the strange conflation of shared pain and lingering infatuation, her emergent relationship with the delightful, complex, adorable Evan, and the organic rekindling of her friendship with Steffi. Lucy’s letters-to-Steffi-from-a-bluebottle are the mental reprise of a childhood game just random enough to read like the kind of inside joke I can imagine any friend of mine mentioning in a moment of nostalgia. My heart broke a little for Lucy and Steffi’s years of lost friendship with each one.

Cam’s presence in Lucy’s narration is strong and charismatic. It’s this strength of characterisation that crystallises the deft portrayal of grief in this novel as Lucy feels her way around the brother-shaped hole in her life, and which in turns throws the grief of the people surrounding her into sharp relief. Everything about this novel radiates authenticity.

Uplifting, emotive, and utterly lovely, Pieces of Sky is a magnificent debut. This is a book I’ll be recommending to everyone I know, and probably to many, many strangers, too.
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