Daniel: Picking Up the Pieces
Peter Pactor
Friesen Press (2019)
ISBN 9781525558931
Reviewed by Amy C. (age 15) for Reader Views Kids (02/2020)

“Daniel: Picking Up the Pieces” by Peter Pactor is a historical fiction novel set in 1929 after the Great Stock Market Crash, entering into the Great Depression.

Many people lost everything in the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  This story is about what happens afterwards. Daniel is thirteen years old, very smart and mature for his age. He has been working overtime after the crash with his multiple responsibilities and commitments. He really tries hard to take some time to be a teenager but there’s no time for that – people are struggling, and he has the means, and the desire, to help. Picking up the pieces is literally what Daniel does as he goes up against people that still oppose him, even after all his predictions unfortunately come true.  He also encounters some new challenges such as discrimination and homelessness.

“Daniel: Picking Up the Pieces” is the fifth book in the Daniel series. I haven’t read them all, the first one I read was book four, “Daniel: The Age of Dissolution.” I really enjoyed the story, so, when I was asked if I wanted to read book five – of course, I said yes! I’ve enjoyed learning more about the stock market crash and the depression. It seems like life was a lot harder in those times, but a lot of things are still relevant (sadly) today, like homelessness – especially among teenagers.

After reading book four, I was used to Daniel’s mannerisms and maturity, but it seems like Daniel grew up even more in this book. He expands his company and buys his school and a hotel! He also becomes a guardian to three homeless boys. And even though I found this part of the story the most unbelievable, (a thirteen-year-old being a guardian to older boys), it was actually the part of the book I enjoyed the most. The teens and their struggles were so lifelike and realistic. Though I couldn’t identify with them personally, their stories really made me feel sad and angry about their situations. The abuse they suffered was incredible – one of the teens had a mom who didn’t even name him – what?  Seriously, how can people act like this?

One part I really connected with was the section where Daniel talks about goals and how if you don’t have goals all you have are wishes. He tells the boys to write down their goals. Then he tells them to copy them every day because this is setting a mindset for them to actually happen. We talk about this at our church group – your thoughts are your reality.

One thing I should mention, the story unfolds though an older Daniel (in his 90s) telling his story to his autobiographer. I bring this up because I didn’t really notice it in the last book except in the prologue, but there were a few places in this book where the story jumps back and forth from present to past and it wasn’t always clear at first. Other than that it’s really easy to follow.

I think “Daniel: Picking Up the Pieces,” and the other books in the series would be great for teens and older and I recommend it. As I was finishing the story, I wondered how many more books there would be – Daniel is only thirteen and the ending of this story leaves room for another!

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