PJ Sharon’s Pieces of Love is a new young adult contemporary coming-of-age novel that deals with marijuana addiction. PJ Sharron has set herself a difficult challenge with pieces of love: she’s made the only real conflict in the novel the protagonist’s (Alexis) grief. The problem with this is the fact that focusing on inner conflict, without outer conflict, is an extremely difficult challenge for an author, and can lead to the reader getting lost.
Alexis is using marijuana to overcome her sense of loss. It’s a fairly common attitude. In terms of drama it means we have the protagonist getting in their own way. This limits the protagonist’s appeal (because as much as we want the protagonist to succeed, we’re also annoyed by them constantly preventing themselves from doing so).
That’s not to say that inner conflict can’t work; it can. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is one of the best examples of this. But Dostoevsky knows to give Raskalnikov plenty of external conflict too. PJ Sharon simply hasn’t provided enough external conflict, and thereby the sense of action is lost.
Thankfully, there are plenty of positives to make up for this negative. The character’s low points are written well, helping to produce empathy in the reader, and the characters themselves are fantastic, helping to bring the story to life. The characters would have been stronger had we seen them through Alexis’ eyes. Written in first person, everything in Pieces of Love should reveal Alexis’ personal opinions and feelings, but at times the character descriptions feel a little flat.
Perhaps the best thing about Pieces of Love is the scene descriptions. There’s a fantastically well written description of life on a cruise ship, and many insights into history, which, though short, are educational and informative.
In terms of technical writing, PJ Sharon is excellent at using metaphors and juicy verbs, but there are a few grammatical errors here and there. For instance, on page one, “Almost a year without my sister and her absence still ached like a raw and bleeding ulcer.” Nice description, with a grammatical error (the “and” should just be a comma).
Overall: PJ Sharon certainly knows her subjects, and she does a fantastic job at educating and at bringing scenes to life. My only gripe is that the novel needs more external conflict, which would give protagonist Alexis a more active role.
Buy Pieces of Love on Amazon.