When her mother, Anna, abandons her to move abroad with her new husband, Sasha is passed around her three grandparents in Cold War-era Moscow, attending first grade with a Lenin star pinned to her breast. Five years later, Anna and her husband reappear and whisk Sasha off to a “better life” in Athens, Greece.

But they are not the gallant rescuers they first appear to be, and Sasha soon finds herself caught between a violent stepfather and a psychologically abusive mother. In her struggle to survive in her new world, Sasha turns to a world of invisible friends—even as she continues to long for something real. At turns haunting and uplifting, Pieces is the story of one girl’s survival and self-discovery—and her continual search for love in a world where she has been given none.

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

Pieces Awards

Enter Sasha s world where so many harsh, vivid, and unforgiving pieces of her existence shape her tumultuous coming-of-age. Born in Soviet Russia, and then moved to Greece with her mother and stepfather as a child, then to New York City as a graduate student, Sasha s is a quest for the elusive balances of love and the bonds of family. ‘I have a cemetery in my heart, she says. ‘It s where I bury people and places that I no longer want It s where Moscow and all its inhabitants lie.’ It s also where we feel the poignant and unsparingly rendered narrative of her life.

Adrianne Kalfopoulou, author of “Ruin, Broken Greek, Passion Maps”

Maria Kostaki is a talented writer. This work is a moving (and sometimes funny) account of the long struggle to put back the pieces of one’s life when everything has been broken. Pieces is a book a great many people can relate to and gain from, as well as enjoy on a purely artistic level. Maria Kostaki writes with honesty, warmth, and wit; she will undoubtedly have a long, successful career as a writer.

Sophie Cooke, author “Under the Mountain,” “The Glass House”

There are no easy answers or simple characters in Pieces, a novel that chronicles one woman’s search for a father figure and ultimately a life undefined by these men. Maria Kostaki brilliantly captures the loneliness and vulnerability of childhood, in Sasha’s case one where she can’t decide which is worse: being invisible to her narcissistic mother and volatile stepfather, or being noticed by them. She stumbles into adulthood in the shadow of her past, blindly attempting to love and be loved. But the father who haunts her dark world is always there, until she learns to see him for who he is, picks up the pieces of what’s left, and charges toward the light. This is an engrossing, emotional book that stays with you long after you finish it.

Whitney Phaneuf, editor and writer, SFist.com, ConsequenceOfSound.net