Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

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gabiGabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Cinco Puntos, 2014.

In this wonderfully fresh and authentic debut novel, we live a year in the life of high school senior Gabi Hernandez, through her diary entries.

Gabi has a lot on her plate. Even before school starts, Gabi learns that Cindy, one of her best friends, is pregnant after getting drunk at a party; and, later, Sebastian, her other best friend, is thrown out of his parents’ house when he comes out to them. Gabi’s family has problems too – her father is a meth addict and disappears from home for long stretches of time, her mother works double shifts , yet they are still struggling to make ends meet.

All this sounds a bit gloomy, but Gabi faces her realistically messy life head on, and she is big-hearted, good-humored and resilient, as well as a perceptive observer of her life and that of her friends.

With upset and drama all around her, Gabi brings a little control to her life through reading and writing poetry in Ms. Abernard’s class. She finds writing poetry therapeutic, and “the sadness [she] feels dissolves a little bit.” Many of her moving and illuminating poems are included, and even when tragedy hits, she is able to find some solace through creating.

She is also developing as a thoughtful young woman, and examines what other take as accepted standards and behaviors, before coming to her own beliefs: on her body and skin color, sex, love, gender roles and religion

With a full cast of characters – from home and school – the reader gets an eclectic portrait of life in a working class Hispanic community, and Gabi is a joyous, bold, not perfect by any means, and utterly relatable voice from that community.

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