Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero

Okay, before I include a picture of the cover of Gabi a Girl in Pieces, I want you to know that I know that this cover is terrible. It’s a terrible cover that will nevertheless make you cry when you encounter the reason for it in the course of the book itself. By contrast, Gabi a Girl in Pieces is so totally non-terrible that you must instantly dash out and read it, particularly if you liked Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging1 but wished that it had more there there.

Gabi a Girl in Pieces

Gabi is a Mexican-American girl in her last year of high school, and this book is her diary of that year. As Gabi works hard on college applications (ugh I remember those days) and hopes to get into her dream school, Berkeley, she is also trying to balance her own family problems and the issues her friends are going through. Her best friend Cindy has fallen pregnant, and Gabi’s trying not to be angry with her for not using a condom. Her other best friend Sebastian has just come out, and his family has tossed him out of the house. Gabi’s father is high all the time, and her mother blames her for everything that happens and everything that might.

With all of this going on, Gabi a Girl in Pieces is still one of the sweetest books I’ve read this year. Because of everything that’s happening around her, Gabi has occasion to really confront the stories she’s been told about being a girl, interested in sex, fat, Mexican-American. She begins to ask herself why her mother blames her when her younger brother messes up, why her aunt’s allowed to carry on with a married man but criticize Gabi for going on dates.

My favorite thing about Gabi is her relentless honesty. Though she sometimes puts a nicer face or ascribes more noble motives to herself when she’s talking to her friends, she is utterly truthful with the reader. She admits that she’s interested in sex, she admits that she’s attracted to other boys than her boyfriend, she confesses her anger with Cindy for getting pregnant and Sebastian for skipping school and using drugs with his boyfriend. This also means that we get to see her unfolding feminism, as she confronts the hypocritical double standard applied to the guys and girls in her high school who are sexually active.

It’s just a really lovely book, y’all. Read it at once! Huge thanks to Aarti for recommending it.

  1. Yes I know the book had no Oxford comma in the title because England, but I don’t hold with that and I will not have it in my house.
  • Gahhh, I’ve wanted to read this for so long and now I finally added it to my library holds.

  • I’m in the US and I am still fighting the good fight. Long live the Oxford comma!

  • Jeanne

    The Rennison books did have Angus, though. If Gabi doesn’t have a cat, some of the charm of this kind of adolescent point of view is lost. Or maybe I’m just getting old and curmudgeonly.

    • Gabi doesn’t have a cat, but I promise the charm of her viewpoint is not thereby diminished. :p

  • This sounds so lovely and heartbreaking. I’m thinking I may be a bigger fan of stories about young adults coming into their own than I originally realized, so I’ll keep an eye out for this and others of its ilk.

    • I especially love to read about girls discovering their feminism and independence in a way that feels real and not heavy-handed. So if that’s also your jam, yep, you should read this. (Feels like that would be your jam.)

  • Amanda

    Excellent! I was hopeful about this one.

  • This sounds just so wonderful and heartbreaking, but yes, that cover is pretty much just wrong in all sorts of ways.

    • Actually, I was surprised to discover that the cover plays a role in the actual book itself, and that part of the book is — like all of it — super lovely. So I felt bad for scoffing. :p

  • Akilah

    Oxford comma 4EVAH.

  • Alley

    …Wow, that cover.

    But this sounds excellent so I will have to get over the cover

    • Hahahaha, yep, that’s exactly what I said when I read Aarti’s review. And I’m glad I got over the cover, because the book was amazing.

  • Read Diverse Books

    A writer acquaintance recommended this book to me recently and I knew I had to read it as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. Yes, the cover is hideous but I imagine it means something given the title and what you hinted at. I actually kind of like it…
    I’m glad it it’s not a horribly tragic book all around, though. I need some sweetness in my reading every now and then despite how much I enjoy dark and serious books.

    • There’s plenty of serious things going on in this book, but ultimately it’s so hopeful and great. I loved it, I hope you do too!

  • Aarti

    Hooray! I’m so glad you read this and loved it, too! I agree, Gabi coming into her feminism was so glorious to see. And the way she owned her love of poetry, too.

  • Wow, this sounds so good! I was kind of put off by the cover, but your review makes me want to pick it up anyway.

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