Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 231 (ARC)
Source: Gifted
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I don't want to say much about this one because going in blind is what makes it so interesting, thus this will be a rather short review.

My motto for this book is "I am thoroughly confused yet extremely curious". Leno seems to intentionally leave you in the dark in the beginning of the novel so that you can discover what is going on alongside the main character. I really liked this approach, but at times I also found it to be incredibly frustrating. This has to do with the fact that everyone in the novel knew what was going on except for our main character, so even I had a hard time guessing ahead because I had as few hints as she did.

I totally understand why our main character got frustrated so many times. It sucks not knowing anything while everyone else knows what is going on and admits they know what is going on, but insists they can't tell you because you have to figure it out for yourself. When Molly finally discovers what is going on near the very end, it's absolutely mind-boggling that the author managed to pull this off. But up until that point, it's easy to get frustrated alongside her. The way that the author reveals a few of the slow steps towards discovering what exactly is going on in the unknown half life of Molly Pierce is frustrating because it's so much wondering and more wondering and more wondering and then--gasp!--it's suddenly revealed out of nowhere, so simply that you want to throw the book at the wall. Though the end result is worth the build up, some of the smaller things could have been more fleshed out. That's really my one issue, we spend so much time inside Molly's head and in her memories that at times the actual present day events go by a little too quickly.

All of these things are set into motion when Lyle, a boy that Molly does not think she ever met before, dies in her arms after chasing her down on his motorcycle and being clipped by a car. Very dramatic, right? It certainly catches your attention! What frustrated me immensely is that while I read, I learned more about Lyle. And, well, Lyle is even more frustrating than Molly. Everyone in Molly's world is frustrating because she's so frustrating. Lyle died, but Lyle didn't have to die if 1) he obeyed traffic laws and wasn't speeding or swerving on a motorcycle or riding the yellow line and 2) he used his head instead of his emotions. In contrast, his older brother Sayer (whose name I absolutely love) is very calm in comparison to Lyle's high volume passion and over-emotion. They were an interesting duo, though I don't feel like we got to know them enough.

Molly's family cares for her, so it's nice to have a good family in YA literature. And, I have to point out one thing: while I keep sitting here saying that Molly is frustrating, it's also really easy to feel for the girl. This story is here to showcase mental illness and how seeking help can really help you. The road isn't easy, which means that this is not an easy book emotionally and analytically despite its short length and quick pacing. When you realize what is going on, your mind is blown and you can't believe you were inside her head throughout this insane journey. Molly is not an easy girl to know, but her friends and her family plus her psychologist get her through everything. She's surrounded by good people, which is a relief.

In the end, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't what I expected it to be, but anyone who can guess where this is going must be a genius. I certainly had no clue that the book would be what it was, but after reading the acknowledgements and the dedication, I am so happy I read it. Give this one a chance if you like mysteries, messed up characters, psychological thrillers, and meaningful stories. It's a short read and one that you won't regret.

3.5 stars



  1. I am about halfway done and I am soo.. Just! I don't even know how I feel about this book. I love it, but I wanted to strangle it in the beginning. But I still loved it. It is definitely the type of book to bring out all kinds of feeling and make your brain work extra hard. looking forward to trying to review this crazy book! I love the cover!

    1. I wanted to strangle it in the beginning, too! I loved it in the end, but when I sat back to analyze and figure out what to rate it a few days later (so that I could wrap my head around things) I realized that I just really enjoyed it and was thankful that things came to a solid conclusion and weren't as confusing as they were in the beginning.

    2. I just finished about ten minutes ago, and came back to let you know my final thoughts. I ended up really enjoying it. I enjoyed the conclusion. I am so glad that the writing stopped being so disjointed. All in all, a great story, beginnings aside!

    3. I think the writing was disjointed to coincide with her disjointed thoughts, you know?

    4. I will agree with that statement. But it was making ME feel all kinds of disjointed! Once I got used to it, it didn't bother me so much. And as she Molly grew, she became a lot more... jointed?!

    5. Yes to all this haha this is definitely a polarizing book in that sense!

  2. I just saw a review for this book on another blog and it had the exact same rating! It's soooo short O_O I don't think this is one that I'd probably enjoy (psychological thrillers and I don't always get along, unfortunately), but I definitely think it has promise, even for someone like me! I'm glad that you enjoyed this one, Lili!

    Fantastic review! <3

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Yeah, this one is REALLY short. I'd say it was the shortest book I've read of the year, but that award goes to a classic I had to read for school. lol

      Thank you, Alyssa <3

  3. I have a copy of this too and I hope I can make time for it. I like mysteries although they are usually hot or miss with me.

    1. Same here, but this one I was rather neutral with!

  4. I have this and am excited to give it a try. I love psychological thrillers but not always crazy about books that are deliberately confusing.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. I'm very curious to hear your thoughts!