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The Half Life of Molly Pierce Hardcover – July 8, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In this mystery unraveled in reverse, Molly begins to fit together pieces of a life only half-remembered, due to frequent blackouts. After witnessing a tragic accident during which a dying stranger seems to know her, memories of those blackout periods begin to return. When the teen connects with the stranger's brother, she feels an intense, familiar love, and Molly questions what she thinks she knows about herself. The protagonist's Dissociative Identity Disorder allows her characterization to unfold slowly, the narrative building on short bursts of memories that go further back in time, revealing more secrets further in to the story. The disorientation at the novel's start begins to settle as the flashbacks occur, and the sense of urgency for the two alternating time lines to merge intensifies with the girl's increasing melancholy and thoughts of self-harm. Molly's relationship with her other identity, Mabel, is most developed and therefore most interesting. The race to uncover Molly's truth will keep readers turning pages.—Sarah Townsend, Norfolk Public Library, VA
Leno’s fascinating debut introduces 17-year-old Molly, whose bouts of missing time begin to reappear to chilling effect. It begins with a crash: Molly witnesses a motorcycle accident, and with his last breath, the dying boy behaves as if he knows her. At the hospital, Molly meets his brother, Sayer—or has she already met him? Slowly she begins to chip away at a second personality named Mabel, and what Mabel has been up to is anyone’s guess. By necessity, the plot is fractured, jerking back and forth along a split time line, but what it all leads to is something original indeed: the poignant idea that being an invented personality can be a sad and tragic thing. The circular events and dialogue are thematically fitting, though the repetition does feel like filler at times (“‘Wait,’ I say. He waits. I wait. We wait.”) and holds Molly back from being a fully dynamic character. That said, her resignation about having to keep love “ephemeral” is affecting, and readers will absolutely need to know the end of this unique inward-facing mystery. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus
Top customer reviews
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Second, it's a very brave book. While the author has created a very compelling story and mystery, she has also used a very realistic landscape. The reader views all of this through the eyes of a girl who is struggling with some heavy depression and mental illness, but at the same time, it's very relatable. I think many of us can remember difficult times we've had in our youth, or are having currently, and the humanizing element to the characters helps bring us in closer to the story. I really loved that aspect of it, it's very powerful.
Lastly, the writing itself is just beautiful. Very elegant prose that dances off the page and keeps you moving right along. The author has a unique voice, which in itself is worth the read, and I found myself reading some of the lines out loud simply because of how well crafted it was.
I can't recommend this book enough!
Warning: this review does reveal something about the plot you may not want to know about until after you read the book (It is difficult to write a complete review of this book without revealing any plot spoilers). First, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Katrina Leno's debut. In Half-Life, Ms. Leno masterfully unfolds her plot through Molly's limited view-point weaving her way through a complicated mental illness and holding her readers hostage in her can't-put-it-down YA mystery. Leno chose what I've found to be an all-too-rarely-used staccato style of writing that lends itself well to both the choppy reality of Molly's life and the urgency of what we find Molly delicately navigating herself through. I loved the supporting characters especially Hazel and Clancy who had just the right amount of depth and page-time. Not having much education or experience with dissociative identity disorder, I found the way Ms. Leno portrayed the mental disorder to be informative, understandable, insightful and respectful. When I finished the book, I felt like I completely understood why everyone did what they did from Molly to Mabel to Clancy to Sawyer. I felt satisfied and complete. I highly recommend this book not only for YA's but for adults as well. It's a quick, fully engaging, enjoyable read with a little education thrown in for good measure. Well done, Ms. Leno. I'm anxiously awaiting your next book.
Classifying this book as young adult is dismissive because it is extremely thought provoking and provides deep insights into a serious issue. I would strongly suggest it for adults of all ages.
Most recent customer reviews
Overall, I found the book okay.Read more
a page turner with a very interesting plot.
good characters.Read more