Broken Pieces made my 2012 favorites list for non-fiction reads. Rachel is on tour for the book, anad I decided to repost my review as a part of the tour. Generally knows for her humor, snark, and love of Nutella, Rachel may find new fans here with her raw and honest collection of essays about emotional events that shaped her life. Check it out.
One of the most courageous things a person can do is write their truth, and then share it with the world. It might be easier for fiction, although I imagine some piece of the author comes through in a novel. But in essays, memoirs, and other personal works of non-fiction, the content is only the author’s truth. I don’t know firsthand, but I imagine this must be terrifying. You tell your story- in total honesty, the anguish, the anger, the grief- and people love it or hate it or, perhaps worst, are ambivalent about it.
It’s riskier, still, when your previously published books are humorous. Your readers think they know what to expect. They like your snark, they like your martini and Nutella references, and they feel they know you.
Then you blindside those same readers with things you’ve only hinted at before. An ex-lover who killed himself and your questioning of your own grief. Other tragic and terrible events that have shaped you into the person you are now. Saying depression and anxiety out loud- exposing yourself to the opinion of every reader. Laying bare your soul.
Is that scary? Maybe. It’s what Rachel Thompson (RachelintheOC) has done with Broken Pieces. Exchanging her trademark snark for brutal truth, Rachel shares with us the more serious events of her life. The stories that perhaps broke her in some ways. Although I prefer to say shaped her into who she is today.
Readers looking only for Rachel’s humor will be disappointed. Broken Pieces isn’t depressing, but it definitely isn’t funny. It is, I think, mournfully hopeful. She tells her stories without melodrama, without asking for pity, but in a straightforward manner, saying almost, “These are some of the stories that shaped me. Take them or leave them.”
What readers will like about this book is that Rachel’s story is, at least in part, a piece of every person’s story. We’ve all grieved. We’ve all survived something that could have destroyed us- maybe not the same experiences as Rachel, but something that forced us to grow up, changed our path, made us recognize hard truths. It’s the shared ramifications of some events that is universal, that readers can identify with regardless of their own path.
Applaud an author for taking a different path, for telling her deeply personal story.