Some of the Parts tells the story of a girl whose brother died recently in a car accident and her struggle to recover. Tallie was in a car accident with her brother and he didn’t make it out alive. She’s struggling with changed family dynamics, awkward social encounters, and guilt. When Tallie discovers that her brother was an organ donor, she decides that finding the recipients of the organs will bring her brother back to her and keep some part of him alive.
Tallie’s story is one that I think a lot of teenagers will be able to relate to in some way, at least in terms of how everyone processes grief quickly. She’s struggling with the grief of her brother’s death and her role in the car accident. Her parents are barely talking to her and all three members of her family are keeping secrets from each other. Tallie’s friends have mostly disappeared and she’s struggling to find her new normal.
There are some moments that are slightly uncomfortable. Tallie’s best friend Mel does taxidermy as a hobby and goes more into detail than I felt necessary – her character definitely adds quirk to the story but she’s not who I would personally choose to spend time with. New friend and love interest Chase has a pretty depressing binder (no more details to avoid spoilers) but he’s a good guy and shows another way of dealing with loss. Tallie’s relationship with Amy, her former friend and brother’s ex-girlfriend, is definitely awkward but it also felt truthful and like something that could really happen between teenagers.
What stands out to me most is how honest and realistic Some of the Parts is. Hannah Barnaby doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s hard to recover from the loss of a family member. She really captures how loss can affect people emotionally and mentally. Tallie doesn’t get a magically happy ending where everything is back to how it used to be, but she gets a realistic ending that leaves her in a better place than she was. Barnaby doesn’t gloss over the difficult parts of grief.
Overall, I think this book has the potential to be really important for teenagers going through similar experiences. While this is a fictional story, the portrayal of reality is very well-done and one that teens in similar situations should be able to relate to in some way. Quirky characters and heartwarming moments keep the novel from becoming too dark or depressing. Some of the Parts is a truthful look at the process of life, death, and grief.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Sometimes bad things happen, and we are not the same when they are over.
For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she’s okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers so far, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. But when Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, it only takes two words to crack the careful façade she’s built around herself:
Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never confided to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back.
Hannah Barnaby’s deeply moving novel asks questions there are no easy answers to as it follows a family struggling to pick up the pieces, and a girl determined to find the brother she wasn’t ready to let go of.