Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

The first book I finished, though officially I started it on the last day of 2016, was quite a read. It was a book I didn’t quite know that I needed to read, until I read it. Don’t you just love when that happens?

I like how it opens, and how in this first journal entry that we read, Quintero sets the scene for the book.


July 24
My mother named me Gabriela, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn’t want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it’s important to wait until you’re married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, “Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas.” Eyes open, legs closed. That’s as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don’t mind it. I don’t necessarily agree with that whole wait until you’re married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can’t tell my mom that because she will think I’m bad. Or worse: trying to be White.


Quintero pretty much establishes what the issues that drives her novel, especially Gabi’s struggles to be a modern Mexican-American young woman, in what is more of a patriarchal culture.

Among the very many things that happens in this book are:

– date rape

– teenaged pregnancy

– a gay teen coming out

– drug addiction

and some other things that I probably shouldn’t point out because spoilers.

But, I don’t know, it’s a lot. I don’t mean to say that this all couldn’t be happening to a group of friends and their families out there. I’m not an American teenager, maybe this is all more common than I imagine. When I was Gabi’s age, I was in school in Singapore, where uniforms are required, shoes had to be white, long hair on girls had to be tied up, boys’ hair couldn’t touch the collars etc. It just seems like it was far more innocent times then (obviously I feel like I am too old for this book….! Why couldn’t it have been written and published when I was an actual teenager?).

I adored Gabi’s growing into her own creativity, learning to write poetry, expressing her emotions in what she writes, and her letters to her father made me tear up.

But that cover. Can we talk about that cover? Having read the book now, I understand where the cover art is coming from but if I had randomly come across this book on the shelves of a bookstore or a library, I would never have picked it up.

I loved Gabi. I wrote in my Litsy review that I just wished I could give her a hug! She’s fierce, independent, strong-willed, smart and funny. And I love her honesty, her vulnerability, her strong bonds with her friends and family. What a great read this was. Why didn’t I read it earlier when everyone was saying it, just read it!

Read more reviews from:

Reading the End







  1. Yay! I’m so glad you tried this one 🙂 I agree, a LOT happens. She covers a lot of ground. But Gabi is so winsome, it somehow doesn’t get bogged down.

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  2. Gabi sounds a lot like Lisa Moore’s Flannery; I wanted to hug her too (but what she faces is much less challenging by the sounds of it)!

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      1. She’s one of my MRE authors. Flannery is her first YA, and charming, but perhaps not really all that Lisa-Moore-ish. She was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for both February and Alligator. Both are very good, but I’m partial to February. (She’s written other stuff too, but I suspect these two are more widely available in your neck of the un-woods.)


  3. Yay! I felt the same way about this book, exactly. And I can’t say what most teenagers’ experiences were, but I’ll say that I went to a high-achieving public high school and I knew people there who experienced all the things you listed as happening in Gabi. For what that’s worth!

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    1. Oh that definitely helps! All of my experience with American schools is via the media so as a teenager in Singapore I was always envious of things like no uniforms, the lockers (!) you know silly things like that. But now with one kid in kindy and the possibility that we will stay here for quite a while, I wonder, gaaah is it really like that??? 😂😂


  4. Loved this book, thanks for the link btw😊 Haha oh yeah the cover, though as you das it makes sense if you’ve read. It did feel like a lot to me too, but I’m old and didn’t have to deal with a lot of romantic stuff in HS. These things happen everywhere I think but the statistics on rape and teen pregnancy aren’t super low in the US are they?


    1. Yeah things in the US probably are like that, but I guess for me it just seemed like a lot of things that happened to this one girl and her friends and family!

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