Monday 16 January 2023

Fragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Maura Pierlot is a talented award-winning author and playwright who writes across art forms for both children and adults. Her work often explores the complex intersection of self, identity, belonging, culture, and memory. She often writes what she feels needs to be heard rather than for a particular market. She brilliantly shows how our modern world has become complicated for teenagers, and actively promotes kindness, empathy, tolerance, and mental health. Her writer’s voice speaks with wisdom and truth. Pierlot spends her time between Canberra and Jamberoo in NSW, Australia.

Fragments is a riveting read about eight ordinary teens (Will, Freya, Reena, Vijay, Mila, Nicky, Lexy, & Mason.) The teens are given a creative task that requires each to explore their own mental health and well-being. As each teen’s story unfolds and goes into the depth of their psyche, it reveals hidden truths about themselves and their worlds. Each teen’s story becomes a fragment of an elusive whole as they search to connect, be seen, and to be heard.

Fragments shows that stress at home, at school and in life is challenging young people beyond their usual coping abilities: this leaves them vulnerable and disenchanted. The book starts with preface about Pierlot and why she wrote Fragments. This is followed by a contents page, The Task, and a Current Forecast. Each teen is then introduced by a short paragraph. The book moves onto each teen’s story and ends with Tomorrow’s Forecast, an author interview, feedback, and author information.

Pierlot has realistically written monologues for both the male and female characters unbelievably well.  Last night when I showed my father the estimate for my final marks, I thought he’d crack open the champagne. But instead, his mouth formed a straight line, all because I’m a point off the max. ‘I didn’t raise you to become second best.’

The language used reflects current teen speak and the voice of each teen is realistic and compelling. Problem is everyone thinks you have to be bleeding or bandaged to be in pain, like if they can’t see the damage, it’s not real. If you could see inside my head, you’d know it’s real. The text is heartfelt, and the monologues can stand alone or be part of the whole.

Fragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection is a recommended text for children 12 years and older. Although set in Australia, the stories could take place anywhere in the world. Fragments was first produced by The Street and enjoyed a premier sell-out season at the Street Theatre, Canberra. It is also a Web Series and is published online by Australian Plays Transform. It won best Screenplay and best TV/Web series at the Canberra Short Film Festival 2022. 

Fragments is a highly recommend text for high school teachers and parents. This new book is Edition 2 and is available March 2023.

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