Title: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
Author: Isabel Quintero
2014 – YA – Realistic Fiction
The Story: Gabi is a high school senior just trying to survive her last year before college. If she even gets accepted into college, that is. Add to that the stress of living with with a father addicted to meth, a mother who seeks to control her daughter’s every whim by labeling her a good or bad girl, and her own conflicting feelings on the world around her.
The Opening Line: My mother named me Gabriela after my grandmother who – coincidentally – didn’t want to meet me when I was born because my mother was not married and was therefore living in sin.
What I Loved: This novel is jam-packed with hot button issues. Among other things, Quintero tackles addiction, teen pregnancy, rape, gender issues, and the struggles of a family caught between two cultures. She handles each of these issues nicely by allowing us to peek into Gabi’s diary for her unfiltered thoughts, hopes, and hardships. I thought Gabi had an incredibly realistic voice – some of her thoughts made me reflect on my own high school diaries, full of angst and questions and fear and dreams for my future. And although the moral of the story was fairly obvious (be yourself!), it’s an important one that teens need to hear.
What I Didn’t Love: As much as I related to Gabi, there were also a million small differences that made it hard to understand her. I understand growing up with the religious restrictions and being confused by relationships and hoping to make it to college. I don’t understand the cultural differences, her love for poetry, some of her family dynamics, her dad’s struggle with addiction. That’s one of the great things about reading diversely – you get to experience something totally different and see the world through a new lens – but at the same time, I personally find the story harder to invest in.
Final Thoughts: Teen Librarian Toolbox had a lot of great things to say about this one, which was my primary reason for picking it up. There was a lot going on, maybe even too much for one novel, but at the same time it felt really authentic. And although the overall message feels somewhat generic, it’s still one that the world needs to hear over and over until we all feel a little more comfortable in our own skin.