Book Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

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Title: The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno
Published in: 2014
Pages: 256
Genres: mystery, contemporary fiction, mental health/mental illness, realistic fiction


“You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.”

-from Goodreads

My Review

Molly has dissociative identity disorder. All her life, she’s felt like she’s missed parts of it. She doesn’t remember anything at all about these missing parts. Just that she blacked out. One day she witnesses the death of a teen boy. As he’s dying, Lyle acts like he knows her although she thinks she’s never met him before. Now she’s beginning to remember what happened before that and what happened when she blacked out. She’s beginning to figure out why. As she remembers more, she discovers she had another life when she blacked out where she had an another personality, Mabel. Over the past year, during that time, she had been friends with Lyle and was in love with his older brother, Sayer, who she might still be in love with.

Molly is a very complex character. I had a hard time understanding her multiple personalities. Molly herself always pretends she’s okay, but in reality is depressed and wanted to end her life. Her other personality, Mabel, is different. She’s more outspoken and angry than Molly. Unlike Molly, Mabel wanted to live. That’s why she saved Molly from committing suicide. If Molly died, Mabel would die too and she didn’t want that to happen. This started Mabel’s life and her friendship with Lyle.

Molly has always felt like she’s missing parts of her life. There’s just times where she blacks out and she can’t remember anything that happens during that time. Then after she witnesses someone die, she starts to remember. She remembers what happened from most recent to least recent. She begins to remember what happened over the last year when she blacked out. That she was friends with Lyle and Sayer, but it wasn’t exactly her. It was her alternate personality, Mabel.

Molly thinks no one knows about Mabel, not even her psychiatrist, Alex. She started seeing Alex about a year ago when her younger sister overheard something she said to her brother about wanting to die and told their parents. She just thinks Alex thinks she has depression. She knew something was wrong, but didn’t want to tell anyone for fear they’d think she was “crazy” and commit her to a psychiatric hospital. She always thought no one noticed. But as Molly remembers more, she finds out that her psychiatrist and family did know about her alternate personality and blackouts. Also, as Molly remembers more, Mabel becomes less present and disappears.

Through her memories, Molly recalls the past year and her friendship with self-centered Lyle, who was in love with her and couldn’t understand why she didn’t feel the same way. She had met him in an abandoned warehouse when she went there to commit suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills she had taken from her parents’ bathroom cabinet. Mabel just had stopped her when Lyle came over and she poured the pills into his hand, making him think he had saved her. Later she met Sayer, Lyle’s older brother who he didn’t get along with. When Molly liked Sayer instead of Lyle, Lyle became jealous and felt resentment and bitterness towards Sayer.

The plot constantly alternated between Molly’s memories and her present, making it confusing and hard to follow at times. But it was suspenseful and fast paced and always kept me wanting to keep reading and know more. I was never bored with it.

I had been putting this book off for several weeks. It had been on my to read list for even longer, pretty much ever since I read Katrina Leno’s other book, The Lost and Found, last summer. I just wasn’t sure about it and I didn’t quite understand the plot. Even as I started reading it, I was hesitant. But in the end I’m glad I decided to give it a try and read more because it turns out that I really liked it. I don’t know whether this is a realistic portrayal of dissociative identity disorder or not. Before reading this book, I hadn’t heard of it. Even now, I know very little about it and I don’t understand what I do know too well.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce was an interesting novel about dissociative identity disorder, though confusing to follow at times. I recommend those looking for a novel about dissociative identity disorder or mental health/illness.

Rating: 5/5 Stars


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