REVIEW: The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton

Publication year: 2019

Summary from Goodreads:
How can I hold myself together, when everything around me is falling apart?

Neena’s always been a good girl – great grades, parent-approved friends and absolutely no boyfriends. But ever since her brother Akash left her, she’s been slowly falling apart – and uncovering a new version of herself who is freer, but altogether more dangerous.
As her wild behaviour spirals more and more out of control, Neena’s grip on her sanity begins to weaken too. And when her parents announce not one but two life-changing bombshells, she finally reaches breaking point.
But as Neena is about to discover, when your life falls apart, only love can piece you back together.


From the moment I started reading The Million Pieces of Neena Gill I was instantly drawn in. Mainly due to the lyrical and passionate writing of Emma Smith-Barton, I really felt as though I was right there with Neena, feeling everything, she was feeling. We see Neena’s spiralling behaviour right from the get-go, sneaking out to go to a party and drink is not the typical kind of behaviour one would expect at fifteen. At least, it’s not what I got up to at fifteen. It was more than just fun, Neena uses these things as a way of coping with the events of the past ten months of her life. And because of that I was instantly attached to Neena, she reminded me so much of me years ago and I related to her on such a personal level throughout the entire novel.

As I said before Emma Smith-Barton’s writing is lyrical, passionate, and just flows so well. It was also sporadic and disorientated at times which really highlighted Neena’s mental state so perfectly. It was so hard not to get sucked in immediately. I think that her writing was the major reason that I connected so much to Neena. I’ve read books before where there’s been characters that I should relate to and connect with, but the writing has been almost like a physical barrier between us. That did not happen here at all. I felt Neena’s grief and heartache as if it were my own. At one point in the novel, I felt Neena’s pain so strongly I was reduced to tears; something I normally reserve for film and tv rather than the printed word. I really must commend Emma Smith-Barton.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was getting to learn a bit more about Neena and her family’s culture. I’ve only lived within small towns and villages throughout the Island of Ireland so my knowledge of Pakistani culture is minuscule so it was refreshing to get to read about something I knew very little about.

There isn’t too much romance in this book, which I was grateful for. I really wanted the focus to be on Neena and what she was going through rather than the relationship she was developing with a boy.

This book tackled themes that tend to have a lot of stigma attached to them; mental illness, alcoholism, and substance abuse, as well as looking at how grief can affect us. And it did so in a realistic and respectful way and I really believe that this book is a wonderful portrayal of these real-life themes. I also loved how we got to see more than just the downward spiral, we got to see some recovery which I think was such an important aspect of this story. Honestly, I loved this book so much I almost want to shout it from the rooftops.

Please do pick up a copy of this book if you can, I promise you will not regret it if you do.

One thought on “REVIEW: The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton

  1. This reminds me of Shout, in a way. It sounds like they have a similar tone. Thanks for reviewing, it sounds like a good read!

    Liked by 1 person

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