Reviews

“The Little Pieces of You and Me” by Vanessa Greene

I was going to wait for the paperback to come out in August, yet somehow I ended up running into the first line of the prologue and I knew that I couldn’t possibly walk away before reaching the very last line.

“The day that your life changes for ever, chances are there won’t be a sign announcing it.”

Before I go any further into The Little Pieces of You and Me, let me first tell you that Vanessa Greene’s novels seem to have a rather strange way (is it magic, I wonder) of finding me just when I most need to read them. Ever since The Vintage Teacup Club, it almost feels like we have been walking through life together, side by side. That is why I have a copy of each of the said novels on a shelf that I proudly call best friends’ shelf.

I would say that reading Vanessa Greene’s first novel was the beginning of a wonderful bond. Even though they are not sequels, as you go from one to the other, it feels as if you are truly going through the different stages of a friendship. As steps are taken forward, dark corners are acknowledged, dusted and brought to the table. There is no judgment. Instead, you will find yourself in a safe space where you can speak your mind without either being made fun of or pitied.

That said, The Little Pieces of You and Me deals with one of my biggest fears. We are no longer trying to find the courage to walk away from something we deep down inside know is toxic, as we were in The Beachside Guest House, we are now one step further in. We are dealing with the fear of knowing that we cannot walk away from something; we are trying to find the courage to stay.

I don’t know about you, but I have found myself thinking (who am I kidding, positively overthinking) about what I would do if my body decided to give up on me before my mind did. Mind you, the opposite wouldn’t be a much brighter future, at all, and it’s equally terrifying. I find myself breathing a little easier now that I have read The Little Pieces of You and Me. You see, this is one of the things I love the most about books, you go through someone else’s journey as if it were your own. You get to experience things that you would otherwise possibly go through life without acknowledging. I understand why people say that ignorance is pure bliss, but once you’re out of the box there doesn’t seem to be a way back in so we might as well talk about it.

Vanessa Greene has a gift. She has many others, certainly many that have nothing to do with writing whatsoever, but this gift in particular is of the uttermost importance – she creates safe havens where fears can be openly feared and discussed. She is aware that talking about certain matters is frightening and that sometimes we end up shutting doors to those in need of opening up due to obliviousness. There’s a kindness, a tenderness, in her novels that must not be mistaken for pity. People learn to both speak up and listen. How refreshing is that? It gives me hope. So thank you for that, Vanessa Greene, so so much.

And speaking of hope, that is one word that is key to every single novel penned by this author. No matter what her characters are going through, even when their lows seem to test the laws of nature by eliminating the harsh yet comforting existence of ground and leading to a bottomless pit, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And we are that light, even if sometimes we have to borrow someone else’s to find our way there, back to ourselves. And that’s another key element to this, and her every, novel. Friendship. Sophie and Isla are in this together, no matter what. It’s truly beautiful to witness. And again, hope.

“Maybe I was a coward. Life can be complicated – but those complications don’t make it any less worth living – in fact, sometimes they’re the very things that make it worth living. Those little pieces are what make you, you, and me, me.”

The Little Pieces of You and Me opens doors. Not just to the outside, through lists of dreams that radiate belief and optimism, but also to the inside. It makes us look closer; it makes us find in those who surround us, including ourselves, all we need to face yet another day. If it’s always going to be easy? Certainly not. But it’s going to be okay.

I read somewhere that most of the times we go out of our way to find something that has been standing right in front of us the whole time. This is not something we should regret, but cherish. Sometimes all we need is a little distance to recognize it for what it is. I would say that The Little Pieces of You and Me is a beautifully written journey into a distance that ends up just where it started: you.

For someone who has found her way back home and has been playing tennis with the idea of uselessness and despair, this book was everything.

There will be tears and laughs. There will be books, tango, chocolate, tea and visits to the hospital, Paris, Amsterdam and Argentina. There will be love. There will be magic. You will have to want to find it, though. After all, this book is the distance.

P.S. I fell in love with Sadie and Berenice. Perhaps we will get a follow-up short story about their pasts? That would be wonderful.

P.P.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found yourself finishing this book on a plane. Vanessa Greene’s writing seems to inspire one not only to wonder about certain things, but also to wander.

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