Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, by Isabel Quintero, (Cinco Puntos Press), 208 pages
Cinco Puntos Press has published another delightful read: Isabel Quintero’s Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. To paraphrase their mission statement, this most certainly is “a book that will make a difference in the way you see the world.” While this book is listed as a young adult title, it’s wonderful reading for anyone who can appreciate a tale of friendship, self-acceptance, and hope.
Gabi is a high school senior with dreams of attending U.C. Berkeley and juggling her own concerns and those of the people around her. There’s her father, a meth addict; her mother who’s dubious about Gabi’s academic aspirations and all too ready to launch into the “keep your legs together” lecture; her best friend Cindy is pregnant; her other best friend, Sebastian, is gay; her brother has become a tagger; and her Tía Berta has taken on a fundamentalist Christianity that views Catholicism as near paganism.
The wonderful thing about this book is that it never turns into a “problem novel.” Yes. there’s a lot going on in Gabi’s life and the lives of those around her, but it’s Gabi’s emerging sense of self that carries the book. She is smart, a poet who publishes her first ‘zine and participates in her first coffee house open mic nights. She knows she’s interested in sex, despite her mother’s warnings. At times she frets about being overweight, but never lets these worries stand between her and a good carne asada taco.
This book could be a quick read, but I found myself reading it slowly, enjoying Gabi’s company. I want to introduce her to so many of the young women (and many of the older ones) in my life. Because the book is presented as Gabi’s journal, readers have the pleasure of seeing into her heart, watching her wrestle with the challenges of day-to-day life. We share in her frustrations, her successes—and those odd moments that seem a combination of both. While she may feel at times like a girl in pieces, Gabi is a remarkable young woman whose honesty and reflectiveness keep her whole.
Keep an eye out for this book and check out the YA section, even if that isn’t what you usually do. You will want to meet Gabi—I promise—and will want to share her with others.