On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.
A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.
Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.
(Synopsis via Goodreads.)
The synopsis for Another Little Piece sounds a lot like a typical woman in peril story, featuring a misogynistic kidnapper/rapist/murderer, or perhaps a sinister cult. And when we first meet Annaliese, wandering through a field, dazed, disoriented, and with no memory of the past year (or the sixteen before it), clad in a garbage bag, it sure looks as though the plot will bend this way. But things get really weird, really fast, as Quinn injects an unexpected supernatural element into Annaliese’s story. The result is an odd, sometimes disjointed, very creepy tale that kept me glued to my Kindle.
Quinn’s prose is both lovely and eerie, and she does a masterful job of depicting and then deconstructing adolescence and the high school experience: slut shaming, unrequited love, alienation and ostracization, you name it. Quinn avoids stereotypes; all of her characters are filled with depth and nuance. I especially love Annaliese – the original as well as the reboot – or rather, how Quinn twists and transforms our perception of her as the story unfolds. (The real Annaliese? Kind of a tool.)
Annaliese and Dex are adorable; Franky is creepy as fuck; and I loved the “spitball poems” used to introduce each chapter. There’s also a great sub-plot with Annaliese’s best friend, Gwen.
I also enjoyed the many flashbacks, though the intros grew tiresome after awhile. The one memory that lacked a “fade in” had me confused for maybe two sentences, but I quickly caught on; ultimately, I preferred this style. The sense of disorientation, no matter how brief, complemented Annaliese’s own bafflement and unreliability.
The final chapter, which is incongruously pleasant and upbeat, left me more than a little disappointed. It felt like a bit of a cop out.
Comments (May contain spoilers!)
Diversity: Annaliese’s best friend Gwen is gay (and Jewish). She finds out when the two take a trip to Ohio to meet Jaclyn, a girl Gwen met on an LGBT chat board. Jaclyn was a lesbian until her body was possessed by Anna – who’s primed to jump into Annaliese’s body next.
Logan Rice, Annaliese’s crush, is described as having “golden-brown skin.”
Anna’s mother is an alcoholic who physically and emotionally abuses her, and Jaclyn and Jess’s mom is a religious fundamentalist who physically and emotionally abuses them. Dex’s mom is an agoraphobe (maybe. There’s a supernatural element to it, but she seems to suffer from agoraphobia as a side effect.)
Annaliese’s parents are weirdly and casually racist; when confronted with her new affinity for Indian food, they speculate that maybe it was an Indian who kidnapped her. It was all just so odd and random, and was a thread that was dropped pretty early on.
Animal-friendly elements: There’s a horrible story about Annaliese and a rented pony that really makes me loathe her.