All The Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen is one of those rare books that I think about when I’m not actually reading it. This is because it sets up a burning question right from the get-go: who is main character Liv and what is the truth about her? Liv wakes from a coma after a nightmare car crash that left her with brain injury and an incision down her chest. Her world is now limited in scope, where her parents are unfamiliar and her likes and dislikes are unknown. What Liv does know, however, is that she’s whisked away from Minnesota to the desert of Arizona to recuperate, recover, and rediscover life as a teenager. This effort is severely complicated by two distinct voices in her head that prattle constantly.
In her new high school (of which the concept of school is altogether unfamiliar to her memory-washed mind), Liv makes friends with a few in the popular crowd, as well as one of their outcasts – a guy named Spencer. This unlikely pairing ends up with Spencer and Liv becoming each other’s only friend. As Liv reveals to Spencer her lack of memory, he goes on a mission to teach her about swimming, movies, and bowling, to jog her mind about what she might have once known and loved. However, Liv keeps having flashbacks and dreams about two girls – a blonde from the wrong side of the tracks, and someone like her with a little sister named Elizabeth. Liv is almost sure Elizabeth is her sister, but since her parents have no other children, Liv chalks it up to having a personality disorder due to the accident.
The angel and devil of her two voices sit on her shoulders as she grows closer to Spencer, who also hides his own dark secret. The two eventually fall for each other, much to the popular crowd’s chagrin, and share their darkest corners with each other. But it’s not to be the darkest secret between the two, as Liv stumbles upon the truth of who she is, who her parents are, and whether she should go down this path or not.
I found the level of believability in the characters astonishing. The dialogue was just right, as was the set-up for Liv’s world. The only time I found anything a bit far-fetched was the twist toward the end, but then again it was quite creative and handled with flair. The writer has provided an excellent read I recommend to anyone who wants YA that makes them yearn for it.