It’s Gabi’s senior year, and a whirlwind of change is upon her. Through journal entries and poetry, Gabi Hernandez writes of the series of events that threaten to overwhelm her. First, she is a fat girl who apparently can’t wait to sleep around and act White (her mom’s opinion); her best friend Cindy is secretly pregnant; her other best friend Sebastian is gay and is kicked out of his home; her father is a meth addict; her aunt talks about God but sleeps with married men; her mother winds up pregnant again; a boy might like her; and Gabi’s supposed to deal with all this while writing college applications and doing schoolwork. As Gabi works through these conflicts, she finds strength and a voice to speak about her experiences and the effect they have had upon her identity.
What The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie did for Native Americans is what Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero has done for Mexican Americans. This is an raw, honest take on a modern Latina’s coming-of-age. Quintero has a wonderful voice making Gabi seem instantly to relate to teens and be likable while also plainly describing truths about life, sex, and other forbidden topics. Echoes of Judy Blume’s influence on Quintero shine through with the controversial topic of sex and sexuality. The poetry and prose will make this a gem for English teachers and teen enthusiasts. This book well deserved the awards it received and greatly enriched YA literature with a wonderful diverse and memorable read. This novel would be a fantastic movie, and one that would even do a great service in changing Hollywood’s idea of diversity.
Note: Violence, alcohol, drugs, language, and sex references.
–But please, give this to every teen girl at some point. Feminine identity and self-worth are strong themes that will speak to teen girls.