Jeremy and Paulie, along with their parents, visit their older sister Mimi, who asked the family to come to her apartment when she found out that her husband was seeing another woman. When a stranger breaks into Mimi's house, Jeremy hides in the basement and the father has a heart attack while trying to fight the intruder.
Paulie tells the reader about what happened that night in the poem "Quietly": "Upstairs that night, my mother and sister and I piled the bedroom bookshelves against the door and stood with our backs pressed there, waiting to hear my father and brother fight him off. But we heard nothing. We heard his footsteps --- first up the staircase, then right outside. The door shook against a shelf and knocked a glass jar of coins to the floor. Jackpot. And then Mimi and I really started screaming."
The story focuses primarily on what happens to the family afterward. The family's problems are revealed and the fabric of their lives begins to unravel. Each member of the family must learn to cope with the situation in his or her own way.
The author, Eireann Corrigan, tells the entire story using poems. This is a very effective method, with one exception. In the beginning of the novel it is very difficult to determine which narrator is speaking. The voices of Jeremy and Paulie are similar in style. The publisher uses different typefaces to distinguish the two speakers, which helps.
This is not a novel for preteen readers. Older teenagers will enjoy the emotional honesty of the poems and the voices of the narrators. It was refreshing to read about a real family with real problems. SPLINTERING grabs your attention from the beginning and won't let go.
Reviewed by Renee Kirchner on April 1, 2004