An Inescapable Inheritance

Pieces brings to life a large Irish-American family struggling with the aftershocks of alcoholism and domestic violence through three generations. The Donnegans’ childhood demons morph in unexpected ways, and each sibling must strike his own bargain. For some, the prize is an unlikely redemption; for others, a familiar curse brings new pain. As they grow into adulthood, the Donnegans’ apparent conformity to middle-class mores masks a reckless irreverence that springs from first-hand knowledge of the chaos below the surface of human interaction. The Donnegans are refugees in disguise, fearing normalcy is out of reach, but each time they’re forced to come to terms with what their actions have cost them, their choices—often bizarre, yet darkly victorious—speak to the human spirit when it’s unwilling to give up hope.

Praise for Pieces

“Mary Ann McGuigan’s novel Pieces, is a beautifully rendered portrait of a family, one that moves from voice to voice and generation to generation, bearing witness to strength and vulnerability, distance and connection. The deepest sources of family pain are explored here, and the ways in which damage can keep seeping through the years. The writing is elegant and assured, the tone moving and elegiac. Brava.”

—Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta

“By the time you finish Pieces, you’ll feel like you’re one of the family. To say that McGuigan is an extraordinarily gifted writer is an understatement, like saying Mount Everest would make a pretty good speed bump. This is a book no lover of fiction should miss.”

                         —David Jauss, author of Nice People, New & Selected Stories II

“Told with a sure voice and an appreciation of the small graces that can come to us in our darkest times, these stories ask us to consider what it means to forgive, what it means to accept, what it means to be a family.”

—Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever

“McGuigan knows how to break your heart. In this deftly woven story collection, she poignantly illuminates the shadowy fissures of family loneliness, longing, and fear, and the unexpected interstices of love.”

—Barbara Kyle, author of The Traitor’s Daughter

“[Pieces] taps into the raw, emotional drama and powerful character investigation that will leave the reader moved and gasping for air. The quality storytelling and palpable tension will keep the reader connected to the book even during breaks, while the brutally honest portrayal of how alcoholism and abuse stay with a family long after those outbursts will almost necessitate said breaks. McGuigan’s novel is both dizzying and unforgettable; certain to make an impact on its readers.”

—US Review of Books

Read an Excerpt


About the Authormary-ann-photo

Mary Ann McGuigan is also the author of four novels for young adults. Her writing has garnered recognition from the Junior Library Guild and the National Book Foundation, among others, and she served on the panel of judges for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Her short fiction and essays, mainly for adults, appear in newspapers and literary journals.