Pieces: A Composite Novel
by Mary Ann McGuigan
Bottom Dog Press

"This isn’t the first time she’s attempted to connect with him, hoping some breakthrough would follow. It never does."

The Donnegan family is no stranger to difficulty. With seven children, Maureen spends the 1950s protecting her clan from Pete, the patriarch whose drunken evening arrivals and capricious moods have the family constantly on edge, wondering what abuse will be hurled at them that night. Eventually, Maureen takes the youngest with her and moves out, splintering the family further even if with the best intentions. Pieces is the story of the Donnegan family— parents, children, and grandchildren—as their common upbringing informs the adults and the parents that they become, people desperate to create stability and unity rather than pass on the sins of the father. Spanning six decades and three generations, this pseudo-anthology (dubbed a “composite novel”) tells the story of a family in flux from the individual perspectives of selected characters.

Exploring the concept of familial bonds and abuse, this story taps into the raw, emotional drama and powerful character investigation that will leave the reader moved and gasping for air. Younger daughter Moira takes the main focus in this story, serving as the focal point during Maureen’s flight from Pete—before dealing with her own divorce as an adult and a catalyst for a major narrative event—but the whole extended Donnegan clan shines in their own individual moments. It is a testament to the author that this family feels so real and alive, telling 60 years’ worth of stories that connect the audience to this family in just a few hundred pages. The quality storytelling and palpable tension will keep the reader connected to the book even during breaks, while the brutally honest portrayal of how alcoholism and abuse stay with a family long after those outbursts will almost necessitate said breaks. McGuigan’s novel is both dizzying and unforgettable; certain to make an impact on its readers.

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