Book Club: The Missing Pieces of Us

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Author: Fleur McDonald
ISBN: 978-1-76029-394-9
RRP: $29.99

Fleur McDonald is an accomplished Australian author of rural romance and suspense novels, The Missing Pieces of Us is a big deviation from her usual genre.

The premise for this story grabbed me and I have loved the other books I have read by McDonald so I knew that this was a book I wanted to read. The subject matter is quite painful to read at times but I still found this to be a very light and easy read, I had to keep reading because I always wanted to know what was around the next chapter.

I have a teenaged daughter so the amount of books I have read lately featuring girls her age and the predicaments they get themselves in scare me, I’m not afraid to admit it; to tell the truth I am also scared by the thought of me as a teen and the stories of teens around me. Basically having a teenaged daughter terrifies me.

There are three main female characters in The Missing Pieces of Us; Lauren Ramsey, her fourteen year old daughter Skye and Tamara Thompson.

Lauren and Skye have a pretty rocky relationship and it’s only getting worse. Lauren is a teacher who is determined never to let a child fall through the cracks in the system and she is concerned for one of the children in her kindy class, when she really should be focusing a lot closer to home. The thing about that is sometimes it’s hard to focus close to home, even when you know you need to, if you are being completely shut out and have no idea how to make an impression that will let you back in.

Skye is a pretty average fourteen year old I think and nothing she went through really shocked me, these were all things that broke my heart for her and that turned my stomach at the thought of them happening to my daughter but they didn’t surprise me. These things happen, and they happen regularly. They horrify me and make me wish I could protect girls from all of this, and ban them from social media, but it just isn’t possible. On top of all the things going on at school she is dealing with some pretty tough breaks at home as well and they affect her judgement enough to encourage her to make bad decisions. All pretty standard for people her age really.

Tamara is the manager of a local clothes shop and she reaches out to help when Skye gets herself in trouble. She too was a troubled teen and if it wasn’t for someone reaching out to her who knows where she would be, now it’s her turn to do the same. Tamara’s troubled childhood has left her scarred and is still affecting all her relationships. She has been working hard to get through her baggage and form healthy relationships and just when things seem perfect the past comes forward and slaps her back down again.

I quite liked these characters and I have to admit it was definitely Skye that touched me the deepest. Lauren and Tamara are interesting characters but they weren’t explored as deeply as they could have been.

The storyline was interesting and quite different from a lot of what’s out there at the moment. A lot of what was happening was pretty easy to predict but there were a few surprises that I wasn’t expecting.

Some elements tied up a little too neatly and some coincidences were a little too serendipitous but I still took great enjoyment from this story and I think if McDonald is going to explore this genre her knack for suspenseful storytelling and strong characters will shine through.

The trials Skye faces make me worry for my teen and cross everything that I’ve taught her well enough not to find herself in situations like this, and glad that her phone usage is monitored.

All in all this was a beautiful story of family, of love and of finding that sense of belonging. A story that demonstrates how freeing the truth can be, even when you worry about how painful it might be.

The Missing Pieces of Us is book #13 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Fleur McDonald loves to hear from her readers and you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Missing Pieces of Us is published by Allen & Unwin and is available in April from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Missing Pieces of Us so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: The Missing Pieces of Us

  1. Spoilers in this review. The Missing Pieces of Us by Fleur McDonald covers some very real and scary issues in life, but is an easy read that you can sit down and finish quite quickly.

    The story follows 3 women: Lauren is a mum, wife and teacher who is struggling to communicate with her child, while also worrying about her kids in class. She receives some awful health news which made me realise how scary things like these can be, and I felt the anxiousness and devastation within the family which made it feel so real.
    Skye is Lauren’s daughter and she is just trying to get through school life while dealing with social media and awful friends. She is also feeling unloved by her family and then her mums health issues too. She has an extremely rough time and confides in Tamara who has given her a place to work, much like what happened to her.
    Tamara has had a rough life, and has felt like she was worth nothing most of her life, but a chance incident while caught shoplifting sees her turned on the right path, and now manages a clothing store, but she still has problems with feelings and emotions.

    I felt the issues surrounding all 3 were incredibly real, and happening right now to families and people. The adoption part was something I don’t think too many books cover, so was refreshing for something different. The social media had me thinking how lucky I was not to have this technology when I went through school, it is definitely scary and can be used for bullying far too easily. The book was quite easy to get through, and it is probably because it didn’t quite go into too much depth.

    Once the adoption storyline came through and things began to unfold from that, it all felt far too rushed and quickly came to the end without too much resolution or story line from there. Once you find out the 2 women are both adopted, and Skye mentions how Tamara would be a cool aunt – you can immediately guess where this story ends up. It was all too easy also how Skye found Todd, and before you knew it, the end of the story, they were the adopted children and here is our new family together, the end. Why did Lauren still feel unease towards Tamara; Did Tamara and her partner work things out and how; What did Todd think of all this, how was he feeling, what was he thinking; Did Skye end up enrolling in a new school and communicating with her nice friend? – So many questions!!!! I just found that we could have had more of a conclusion to tie everything up and not leave me wondering all of those should have been answered.

    Overall The Missing Pieces of Us was a quick read, that covered some serious issues but in a light way. I wish there was just more depth to the story and characters to make it all feel like it concluded and all the stories were finalised.

  2. Thankyou Allen&Unwin for the opportunity to review ‘The Missing Pieces of Us’ by Fleur McDonald.

    The book begins with a diary entry written by a young girl who together with her family moving to a new life in Australia under the ‘ten pound pom’ scheme.
    Then we begin Chapter one to get familiar with Lauren, wife of Dean and mother of Stu (a perfect child) and Skye. Lauren is a teacher and totally involved with her job and very concerned for the welfare of a little boy in her class.
    Because of her preoccupation she neglects to notice that Skye is experiencing problems in her life due to peer pressure and bullying. We follow Skye through the book as she deals with issues common to fourteen year olds with social media and influence by others.
    She through unfortunate circumstances is befriended by Tamara the manager of a trendy clothing shop ‘Angelic Threads’. Tamara went through similar issues as a teenager, she still has her own issues to resolve but takes Skye under her wing and offers her an after school job.

    Meanwhile Lauren has a serious health concern which impacts on the whole family leading to her wanting to learn more about her adoption and finding any information she can in regards to her birth mother.

    I found this book to be very relevant in today’s environment and with the pressures in society.
    I thought it was a book that should be read by parents of teenagers and the teenagers themselves.
    There were messages in the book which would be very important, such as relationships with children and offering support when needed or just to be a listening ear. Also not to become too involved in your work to the detriment of your own family.
    A great story and an interesting read.

  3. The Pieces of Us by Fleur McDonald

    This story deals with the issues girls and women face, the pressure from society and peers, and the decisions they make, and how those decisions affect everyone’s lives.

    Lauren is a kindy teacher, who wants the best for every child in her class. They are on her mind constantly, to the extent where Lauren’s 14 year old daughter Skye feels her mother has no time for her: that her mother’s class is more important than she is. The feeling grows, and Skye turns to her school friends for reassurance. School these days is full of social media, with phone texts and Facebook meaning kids can taunt each other without having to be face to face. Plus the pressures of teen romance – it is an explosive mix.

    Meanwhile her mother is facing an unexpected health scare, with unknown results and lots of tests. This makes Skye even more unsettled, and she becomes rebellious in her confusion. Her “I don’t care” persona results in her taking on a dare from her friends, which lands her in more trouble.

    A friendly store owner, Tamara, steps in to help Skye. She gives her a job, and actually listens to her, offering her non judgemental advice. Tamara has her own issues, confronting things from her past that she ran away from 20 years ago, which resurface and tilt her world on it’s axis.

    Lauren’s health scare makes her finally get serious about tracing her birth mother, and the story then takes us to adoption in the late 1960’s, and the sad way girls were made to give up their babies.

    From there the story seems rushed along, and suddenly it is all explanined. I feel that it is too neat, and whilst I enjoyed the book, the ending left me with the doubt that finding “the Missing Pieces of Us” would ever be that easy.

    The book is an easy read at just on 300 pages, and the storyline keeps you wanting more, which intensifies upon reaching the quick ending.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace, and Allen & Unwin for the chance to read Fleur McDonald’s latest book.

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to review The Missing Pieces of Us by fleur McDonald. I absolutely loved this book and devoured it cover to cover in one day. It is a story about a teenage girl and 2 women each facing their own issues and ghosts from the past although non fiction it could quite have easily been a true story. It was a story that I could sense what was going to happen from the start and yet was so well written that I just wanted to keep reading to affirm that what I thought was going to happen actually did happen. I would recommend this book to anyone A great read

  5. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of The Missing Pieces Of Us by Fleur McDonald to read and review, ( Beauty and Lace Book Club),so a nice bottle of wine and chocolate and a comfy seat last Saturday was my plan.
    Was an enjoyable afternoon read, light and with the normal Fleur happy ending. The sort of book for a sunny afternoon after a hard week at work as the plot was easy to understand if not a wee bit predictable, even the “twist” at the end could be spotted well in advance.
    I would have loved to have seen the characters fleshed out a bit more, especially Lauren’s emotions over her cancer scare, and her hubby I can’t even remember his name today to write in this review he was almost a “non” character.
    Because Fleur is an aussie I will give 2.5 stars, have passed my copy on to my aunt and will be interested to hear her opinion.

  6. I really enjoyed reading ‘The Missing Pieces of Us’. It was an easy read that I finished in two days, but it was really enjoyable and hard to put down. Having a daughter of my own, it made me think about how important it is to try to keep the communication lines open (no matter how you’re feeling yourself) and also how important it is to have another adult (not necessarily related) who your children can go to for help and to talk to, if they feel that they can’t talk to you. It’s very easy to get involved in our own lives, especially as our children get older and don’t need us as much, but relationships always need to be worked on to be healthy.

    As other people have written, the storyline was fairly predictable and it would have been great for the storylines to have been fleshed out a bit more. But for the type of book it is, sometimes it’s just good to have an easy read.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for another great book to review >:o)

  7. Fleur McDonald is well known for her rural romance stories, this book is a departure from that genre into Womens Fiction and its the first of her books that I have read!

    It tells the story of three women Lauren – a mother and school teacher, Skye – her teenage daughter and Tamara who is estranged from her family and going through a lot in life. The book mostly centres around Lauren and Skye. Lauren is a dedicated teacher who is so dedicated to her job that she fails to see how her daughter Skye is screaming for attention. Skye has her own rebellious ways of coping with being a teenager and the peer pressure that goes along with that. She meets Tamara who manages the local clothing shop – Tamara sees a lot of herself in Skye and helps her through some tough times especially after her mother is diagnosed with melanoma.

    I enjoyed this book very much, but I felt the ending was a little rushed and that Tamara’s character could have been explored a lot more. I will definitely be reading more from this author. Thank you to Allen & Unwin and Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to review this book.

  8. Thank you BeautyandLace and Allen&Unwin for this opportunity to read The Missing Pieces of Us.

    I enjoyed reading this book because it made me laugh, teary (often) and also reminded me to listen and to love our loved ones. It is about women, basically 2 grown women and a teen and how they face certain situations in their lives.

    Since it is involves health, teenagers, and general things that happen in life, I think we all can relate to the characters and what happens to them.

    When I first started reading the book, it was a little hard to keep track of who was who in this book, and what work they did, but soon enough, it becomes easier as each character’s dimensions became more evident.

    I love the pretty front cover design and also the language was easy to read and understand. I also love happy endings, and I think in our world, we have so many problems and it’s just beautiful to read a book where the characters make mistakes, learn, grow and then are kept happy at the end. It is a great ending for the book, and even it real life, it would be nice to have such a happy ending. Why not!

    I liked the characters, they had their flaws, but they also reached out to others and showed their vulnerability too.

    This book is based in Australia and it touches greatly on adoption and the circumstances that women faced in such a situation. It is a sweet and happy to read book which is sentimental and also optimistic, and realistic too.

    I enjoyed reading this book, it did make me want to find out what was going to happen next. I also reminded me of a mother’s love and concern for her child, and sometimes how circumstances make it difficult for her to show that love.

    I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to read abour everyday family life, mum, dad, son, daughter, and how it can have different meaning for different people.

    It is a sweet and hopeful book. Thank you, well done Fleur McDonald.

  9. Thank you so much Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin for the chance to read ‘The Missing Pieces Of Us’ By Fleur McDonald.
    I love being a part of Beauty & Lace’s book trial club because I get to read books like this one….stories that if I picked the book up in a book shop, I’d probably put back down, only because I love my crime novels…but being a member of this book club is opening up my reading repertoire and I love it!
    I found this story was so easy to get into and quickly. From the first page I was interested. I wanted to know what was wrong with Dirk….I wanted to know more about Skye & her teenage problems….
    The book covers a few relevant topics of today; sexting, bullying online, peer pressure, melanoma. And surprisingly even brings up the interesting topic from the 50’s and 60’s when babies were ‘taken’ from mothers who gave birth at some hospitals. This hit home with me, as my Nan always believed she had another child out there somewhere. When she was married to my Grandfather, she fell pregnant and when she gave birth, she swore her entire life, that she heard her baby cry and yet the Doctors and Nurses told her the baby was born dead. It was something she never got over and was still talking about it a couple of days before she passed away. So wrong and so sad.
    The story follows a normal family, where Skye’s Mum, Lauren, was adopted. During her life she had always wondered where/who she came from but it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, melanoma, that she knew she had to find out her family history.
    Meanwhile, Skye is going through what I would call normal teenage angst problems, believing her parents didn’t want her, believing they favoured her older brother, feeling slightly irrelevant in her environment, when she bows to peer pressure and shoplifts….This is when Tam appears, a lovely, friendly, happy lady that all of the teenage girls seem to relate to. She runs the dress shop across from where Skye shoplifts. Tam saves Skye from being reported by offering her a second chance to change her life, and work for her after school and weekends.
    Skye does begin to change, and we as the reader, are taken on the journey of Skye, Tamara and Lauren. We follow Lauren, a teacher, who has been diagnosed with melanoma….now, this book isn’t what I’d call a tear-jerker but it was at this stage, where they talked about the cancer spreading and having to take lymph nodes, where I fell apart…it was very real to me. I watched my Nan die from Melanoma and the steps that Lauren goes through is what my Nan went through, although I felt the book treated this illness a little lightly for my tastes…I know how dramatic it is and what a evil disease melanoma can be and how it spreads its tentacles and permeates every part of the body.
    I enjoyed watching Skye & Tam grow closer and enjoyed seeing Tam’s own personal journey, with love and with learning to know her adopted Mum again, after so long, as Tam was kicked out of home at 16 by her adopted Dad.
    The ending was good but I felt the entire story was wrapped up too quickly. I enjoyed reading the book, I really did…but I think I would’ve loved to have another few chapters to have read, where I got to see how they all came together, feel their experiences more….

    Fleur McDonald has a wonderfully flowing writing style, where I just go from word to word, drinking them all in. This story was a easy read. I’d be interested to read more of this authors books.

  10. I was lucky enough to read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    The three main characters Tamara, Lauren and Skye faced real life problems and it was a very moving down to earth novel. I loved how they were pretraded and even though their stories within the novel was problems everyone can relate to , it was so easily to get drawn into their world’s to hope for a happy ending.
    I would recommend this book to anyone that love an easy read, real life down to heart book.
    I love reading books by Fleur McDonald as she can make real life so enjoyable to read between two covers.
    THANK you.

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