Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
When The Chancellor and I go on semi-monthly outings to Barnes and Noble, we really like to scope the place out to build our TBR lists. We do a lot of Goodreads uploading and an occasional library loan requesting. Last Saturday night, we had a grand old time at B&N, and I might have gone overboard on my ILL requests. A HUGE stack came in for me a few days later. And then another small stack added to the pile. Oops. I have been temporarily sidetracked from my read-things-already-owned to reading-the-shiny-new-things for the next few weeks. And Isabel Quintero’s young adult novel is one of them.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces features the diary of Gabriella Hernandez, a young Latina in southern California. Gabi’s mom is overworked and her dad is a meth addict. Gabi’s younger brother Beto is trying to stay out of trouble (and not succeeding), while Gabi herself struggles to accept her own body, as well as her relationship with food. She has to deal with her best friend’s unexpected pregnancy, her other best friend’s coming out to his strict and conservative family, as well as her own awareness of her sexuality. Interlaced is her emerging writerly voice through her diary and her poetry.
This may sound like a lot to handle, and it most definitely is. Quintero writes with a candid voice and doesn’t shy away from emotional traumatic events. We get inside Gabi’s head, so that we understand her struggles and family problems. In my Goodreads review, I wrote that she feels like Sherman Alexie’s spiritual heir, and it seems true, upon reflection. She is both funny and tragic, and real. This is a novel you won’t want to miss. Especially if you, like me, believe in the power of our words to help us break apart and come back together again.