Welcome to the world of Gaby Hernandez: closet junk-food binger, aspiring poet and Latina high school senior whose world collapses around her just as she’s beginning to find her place in it.
Gabi’s life is full of typical teenage angst: academic stress, mad crushes, negative body image, mean girls, and mom conflicts. But underlying that everyday turmoil is Gabi’s struggle to answer deeper questions about her ethnicity, class, and her sense of self: Is her skin too white even though she feels brown inside? How long can she hide the fact that her dad is a homeless meth addict? Is she too fat to be noticed by the cute guy? More importantly, will she ever break free from her family’s cycle of poverty and rise above the cultural boundaries set by her mother and aunt?
Told through diary entries, Gabi reveals her innermost thoughts, feelings, hopes and despair as she navigates her way through a senior year straight out of Drama 101: Her best friend becomes pregnant, her guy friend announces gay, she gets dumped by her boyfriend, her dad’s addiction is destroying her family (among other life-changing dramas), and through it all, she soothes herself by writing brilliant poetry while devouring sweets and sopes.
Gabi’s character is self-deprecating and real. It’s almost as if the author, Isabel Quintero, has stepped inside Gaby’s brain and downloaded its contents into the diary entries of this book.
I loved how Gabi presents herself as a strong, empowered woman, yet, as a reader, we are a partner to her most fragile, tender thoughts. She’s resilient amid the chaos around her and, for all of her perceived faults, she’s still quite likeable. After reading the first 20 pages, I wasn’t so sure I’d make it through this book. But her character grows on you; suddenly you connect and you’re swept up in her life–and her very own, very real journey to mend her fractured soul.
This book is also a 2017 Abe Lincoln Award Nominee. You can find it and other nominees on the shelf under the stairs. Check out the link here for a full list of Abe Lincoln Book Award nominees!
And let us know your thoughts if you decide to read Gabi, A Girl in Pieces.
Reviewed by Denise Mortensen, Library/Media Assistant at LFHS.