Gabi: A Girl in Pieces
Cinco Puntos Press
“…alas, Journal, I cannot lie to you. This is the only place I can be the most myself and I have to be honest.”
Life is messy for Gabi, as she shares with readers in her journal. She’s an emotional binge eater with two best friends – one pregnant and one gay, a mother who is convinced Gabi is a “bad girl,” a dad who is addicted to meth, an aunt who alternates between zealous Christianity and cultish superstition, and all she she wants to do is survive her senior year and get into college. While this might make the book seem heavy or all doom-and-gloom, it’s really not. Gabi’s sassy attitude, nearly unshakable confidence, brutal honesty, and mature insights (actually, a little too mature at times) make you want to be her best friend rather than feeling bad for all the adversity she faces. It helps that she is also hilarious. Gabi is a girl with opinions about all sorts of things – body image, race (particularly the quirks of Latino culture), sex, and the double standard of how boys and girls are treated, especially as teenagers. As in so many YA books, a teacher, her writing teacher Ms. Abernard, is a big influence on Gabi when she starts writing poetry for Ms. A’s class and performing spoken word with the college kids at a local coffee shop. There is even a zine in the middle of the book – one of Gabi’s zine illustrations is where the book’s awesomely weird cover comes from – that is a product of her writing class. We should all have had such amazing teachers in high school. Gabi dabbles with romance, kissing a few boys but ultimately ending up with arguably one of the best boyfriends in a YA book in recent memory. And she even slaps a couple people. Basically she is awesome and so is this book.
Everyone should stop what they are doing right now and read this book. I’m going to go out on a limb and call it as a sure thing for at least an honor if not the winner of the Printz or the Morris.