Rummanah Aasi
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero might be a hard sell to readers because of its unusual cover, but I think readers will gravitate to this book because of the fantastic and authentic voice of Gabi Hernandez.

Description: Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, 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.

Review: Gabi, a Girl in Pieces is a breath of fresh air and a book that you won't easily forget. Written in a diary format, Gabi chronicles and reflects upon all her moments during her final year of high school. The slice of life diary format style can be tricky to write because the author can easily slip into telling the story rather than showing it. In this case Gabi's fresh voice and interesting commentary on her family, friends, and her future is what makes the format work.
  Gabi's voice is fresh and funny. She is upbeat even even amid the exceptionally tough things going on in her life such as her drug addicted father, her pregnant best friend, and her best guy friend who just came out to her and is now homeless because of his sexual orientation. In the midst of the chaos, Gabi is interested in creating a future for herself. She wants to go to college and works hard to achieve her goal even though she hates Algebra 2 with a fiery passion. She gets frustrated with her traditional mother who insists on instilling Mexican tradition in her daughter's life. Gabi would also like to find the right boyfriend and have a nice romance in her senior year of high school.
  The reason I loved Gabi so much is that she became an universal voice despite of her physical appearance, her ethnicity, and even her gender. Yes, Gabi struggles with her weight, self perception and could be easily labeled as "a fat girl", but she doesn't obsess about it. Gabi loves to eat and she's not ashamed of being a person who loves to eat. More, though, Gabi isn't self-deprecating and doesn't believe a weight loss fundamentally changes her. In fact, there's no weight loss in here at all. Gabi comes to own who she is as she is and says that nothing else matters in terms of other people's perspectives about it. It's wholly refreshing. Instead of bowing to others perception of her, Gabi remains true to herself which is very hard to do when your 17/18 years old.
  Gabi's honesty is not only appealing but I also loved how strong and empowered Gabi was at the beginning and how much more she grows in the book. The weaving of Mexican culture into the story was also done quite well and adds a flavor to the story. While we may not agree with what Gabi's mother enforces or how her Tia consistently shaming Gabi, we are given a context to understand their point of view. I also appreciated that each supporting character is also nuanced and flawed which also made the story believable.
 I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I loved Gabi.  I really hope we get books that have characters like her. I cannot wait to see what Quintero writes next.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, underage drinking, drug use mentioned, and frank discussion of sex. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth, Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass by Meg Medina, Drown by Junot Diaz
4 Responses
  1. Sounds like a realisitc book for teenagers. I havent' seen this one, so I am curious.

  2. Oh this sounds like a good one and I know several who would enjoy it. Not a fan of the cover either. :)

  3. Jenny Says:

    While Gabi herself sounds absolutely AWESOME, I have to say that cover creeps me out a little! I thought maybe it was a zombie book with all the dismembered limbs everywhere ;-)

    I think we all struggle with self-perception at some point, and I love that Gabi comes to terms with how she sees herself (and how others do) and owns it:)

  4. I would have honestly never picked this one up just based on the cover (which I find a little creepy)! I think Gabi's life has a bit too much going on for my liking in a contemporary, but I like how realistic she sounds as a character and the fact that she embraces herself the way she is.

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