Published by Cinco Puntos Press on October 14th 2014
Genres: Dating & Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Girls & Women, Social Issues, Young Adult
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My mother named me Gabriella, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn't want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it's important to wait until you're married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, "Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas." Eyes open, legs closed. That's as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don't mind it. I don't necessarily agree with that whole wait until you're married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can't tell my mom that because she will think I'm bad. Or worse: trying to be White.
Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, the cute boys, her father's meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces is the story of high school senior Gabi. She’s dealing with a lot in her life including a drug addict father, a mother who wants her to stay a virgin, body image, culture, college applications, poetry, friendship, and love. The reader learns Gabi’s story through journal entries where Gabi works through all the pieces of her life.
I actually read this book at the end of last year but didn’t get the chance to write up a proper review. Gabi did make one of my year-end top tens though and I said something gushing like: “ I was blown away! This debut is a breath of fresh air and I didn’t want to put it down.” Anyway, I’m reading all the five William C. Morris nominees now and so I read and listened to Gabi again as a refresher.
I really clicked with this book- the voice, the journal style, and the humor are right up my alley. Gabi has had some hard times but doesn’t let life get her down. She’s so relatable and her honesty, cheeky personality, and self-deprecating humor are so refreshing.
Gabi feels pressure from her mother to lose weight and feels body-conscious when she tries on bathing suits and dresses. She wishes she was a little thinner but doesn’t beat herself up about it too bad and, in fact, feels pretty good as she is:
I’ve been wondering if Martin and I will have sex sometime. How would that be? I don’t think I want him to see me naked, I mean eww gross. Sometimes I don’t want to see myself naked. Sometimes the mirror is my enemy. I mean, I would never dare ask it who the fairest of them all is because I know the response would make me weep. But sometimes I feel okay about how I look and even think, I’d tap that, why not?
Gabi trades her beloved snack foods for her newfound love of poetry. She works through her feelings about her father, sexual feelings, and other life issues through this medium. Gabi also creates a fabulous girl power zine, which is where the book cover art comes from. Sample pages from the zine are included in the book.
Gabi’s world includes a pregnant best friend, a newly out friend, drugs, family drama, and first love. But Isabel Quintero’s debut doesn’t feel heavy-handed at all, but fresh and authentic.
I’m watching the CW’s Jane the Virgin now and I think this book pairs well with that show. Great voice, sense of humor, a strong protagonist who is a writer, family theme, living between cultures and love for telenovelas are just some of the similarities. Also consider picking this up if you loved (the awesome) Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.
The print book is great since you can read it as Gabi’s journal, and see the poetry and zine in the intended format. But, audiobook fans should also consider listening to this one. Kyla Garcia reads the audiobook and puts a lot of personality in her delivery. She’s a good match for the strong, sassy Gabi.
If you love realistic, edgy YA, multi-cultural stories, and strong female protagonists then definitely pick this one up. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces is a finalist for the William C. Morris Award for debut YA fiction.