I can see why many consider The Missing Piece
to promote individualism over relationship. But there's more to the story here. It's not so much that Silverstein's telling us to avoid relationships like the plague, he's cautioning us not to seek completion in other people, ideas, or things. Relationships are hard anyway, and when we approach them from a needy place, we might hold on to them so tightly that the break from the pressure of being another's all-in-all. Or we might get distracted by our own pain, take them for granted, and let them slip away.
And Silverstein's not just talking about relationships here. He's talking about our life journeys. No ideology, wealth level, or achievement will make us complete. We don't journey toward completeness or perfection in our lifetimes. Such grasping at completeness makes us miserable, takes the song out of our lives. We muddle our identity, confuse our sense of selves with other people or material accumulations. Of course, I could be wrong.
Oh yeah, Sigourney requested multiple reads of this one. She absolutely loved the Pac Man-like main character and the simple black and white line drawings. And yet another plus--it's the first picture book I've encountered where I'm talented enough to have been the illustrator.