We’re introduced to a normal day at school for Annie as she is ridiculed and called ‘Viking’. 16 year old Annie moved here from Norway 4 years ago and has found it hard to adjust. Starting off using the customs she is used to, this causes her peers to begin the ‘Viking’ name calling that has followed her through her schooling. That evening, Grant Penney commits suicide. He wasn’t liked much before this but now everyone is being hypocritical, apart from Annie, which sets her outside of the norm once again.
The first intimation that all is not as it seems on the surface of Grant’s suicide is Annie seeing Grant’s abandoned bike in the shrubbery.
Another thread running through the plot is WW1. Poet Noel Clarke has sparked her interest at school so she is going to research and it is during her work experience in a nursing home that Annie spends time with mute WW1 soldier, Bill Dunne. Bill draws the same battle scene over and over again.
Through Annie’s character, Hedges explores a young person’s feelings of being uprooted from a family home due to parents splitting and not fitting in to a new country with its own customs. Annie questions herself about her parents split – was she the cause? Could she have done something differently? Close to her grandfather, she worries at the thought that she wasn’t there when he died in Norway. Annie is left to fend for herself most of the time with her mother working so this also gives a sense of isolation.
Investigating Grant’s suicide leads to her sparking off his best friend Lee. Following a lead from a card she finds in Grant’s pocket, she finds herself being almost drawn into something sordid … until she makes a realisation and removes herself from the situation. She finds that Lee also made the same conclusions. This thing that almost pulls her in is very topical being in the media almost constantly. Hedges tackles this with honesty and realism.
I enjoyed Annie’s visits to the nursing home to visit Bill. Her Christmas present to him and the resultant find tied this up and brings home the depravity the soldiers experienced.
I loved Annie’s character. Typical actions/reactions from a 16 year old, she is sharp and intelligent. Very abrupt, she does herself no favours, not willing to bend and compromise to fit in. She is a young person with integrity. Annie’s character is one that YA readers will readily identify with.
Jigsaw Pieces is a quick read that is engaging and has a good pace and rhythm. I loved the way it all tied up – the pieces all fitting together. I have no hesitation in recommending for readers of all ages.
I would like to thank the author for providing a PDF in exchange for an honest review.