Pieces of Sky is a debut YA novel by Australian author Trinity Doyle. From the moment I saw the beautiful cover design and read the hook of the opening sentence, I loved this book.
Lucy’s older brother Cam drowned eight weeks ago. Her parents are shattered and her life has been hollowed out – she is a competitive swimmer who, since her brother’s death, can no longer do the thing that she loved and around which her identity has been built. She misses her brother and is left with big, heavy questions: Why did he die? Was it an accident? Did he kill himself?
Pieces of Sky weaves together Lucy’s grief, her efforts to find answers, her tentative re-connection with an old friend, and the discovery of a new love. There’s an element of mystery too – somebody is sending cryptic messages to her dead brother’s phone. Before he died he painted a series of images of a girl without a face.
The mystery drew me in, but there was something a little contrived about it. The person sending the texts went to great lengths to hide their identity, but their motivation wasn’t completely believable for me. The faceless girl paintings similarly rang a little as a plot device, though I was drawn into the portrayal of Cam as a disturbed-artist type of character.
The things I loved about this book were the richness of the writing, the authenticity of the dialogue and characters, and how beautifully the story elements were woven together. There were small touches in how the story was told that really made it memorable for me – especially the series of letters between Lucy and her ex-best friend.
I have conflicted feelings about the book’s ending. I loved the note of freedom, willingness to take risk and embrace life again. But I also felt a tinge of disappointment that Lucy’s re-emergence into her own life felt a little bit orchestrated by the love interest, rather than being entirely a product of her own actions.
Overall, my criticisms are minor. This was a beautiful book and a rich and engaging read.