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 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.
- 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. ↩