The Missing Pieces of Me by Amelia Mandeville (Review by Suezelle D’Costa)

3 min read

Rating: 3.5 stars
When I started reading The Missing Pieces of Me, I was certain I couldn’t go through with it. But after a few weeks, I decided to follow the 50-page rule, and picked the book once again and gave it a go. And then, I couldn’t stop. If you’re wondering why I may have been put off in the first instance, it’s because I am not too inclined toward contemporary, colloquial writing. And since I picked this book primarily because of the story, I thought it wasn’t fair to dismiss the book entirely yet. I’m glad I changed my mind.

Written by Amelia Mandeville, The Missing Pieces of Me is a story of a young introverted girl, Willow, and an outgoing lad, Dustin, who fall in love, and accidentally get pregnant. Dustin is supportive, and Willow gives birth to their daughter Zara.

While Dustin is extremely happy with his new family, his world comes crashing down when he returns home from work one day to find that his girlfriend has disappeared, and has left him nothing but a cryptic note and of course, Zara to be looked after. Given how much he loves Willow, Dustin sets out on a mission to find his girlfriend, but along the way, whatever he discovers about her leaves him baffled.

Reading this book brought up a lot of emotions in me, and I found myself growing empathetic towards both our protagonists. I struggled to take sides because both versions – Dustin’s as well as Willow’s – were completely valid. I absolutely loved the narration format Mandeville chose, and this is not only because she beautifully switched from the present to the past, but also because of how she sewed Willow’s background story into the present.

When I say I couldn’t put this book down, I say it because The Missing Pieces of Me tackles a lot of issues that are generally intertwined with each other. At first, I thought this was only about postpartum depression, but as I turned page after page, this book hit home in many ways. Although Mandeville touches upon several issues that affect her characters’ mental health, what stayed with me is the impact the death of a loved one can have on our lives, and how difficult it is to articulate how we feel. Here’s where I deeply empathised with Willow.

While this book puts a huge emphasis on women, their relationships and some of the mental obstacles they face, I would have loved to read more about Dustin—understand his character at a deeper level. Amelia Mandeville is definitely an author to watch out for. My biggest reservation about this book, in particular, is the slangy language.

Mandeville’s The Missing Pieces of Me is a gentle reminder to appreciate the people we have (and love) in our lives. It also brings to light the pros and cons of social media, and how it’s affecting the younger generation. This book also surfaces the supremely important role parents play in shaping the lives of their children. Bust most of all, The Missing Pieces of Me, through its lead characters – Dustin and Willow – uncovers the importance of caring for each other, talking openly to each other and the consequences of (unconsciously) neglecting the people we love.

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