Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintera, review by Melissa Fox
It's Gabi Hernandez's senior year, and while her life hasn't particularlybeen easy -- her father is a meth addict, wandering in and out of her and her brother's lives -- her life has gotten more complicated than usual. One of her best friends got pregnant the first time she had sex. Her other best friend just came out, and has been kicked out of his parents' house. Gabi's still struggling with math in school, taking Algebra II for the fourth year in a row, but she has hopes that she can get into college; she would be the first in her family, since her parents immigrated from Mexico.
She also kind of wants a boyfriend, but is afraid that since she's a self-proclaimed "fat girl" that she'll never find love. Especially with her mother constantly nagging her about being a "good" girl. Writing all that down, it sounds like it's too much. It's over the top; how bad can a kid's life get? But, in spite of all the crap that is happening, Gabi's strong voice makes the book shine. Told in diary form, we get Gabi's innermost thoughts, her insecurities and feelings, her poems and heartfelt letters to her father (which she never sends). Even though her life is complicated and hard, I connected with Gabi on the most elemental level: she's just a girl trying to live her life the best she can.
Also, underlying all the drama that is going on in Gabi's life was a revealing of a double standard for boys and girls. Gabi's supposed to remain a virgin until she's married; her brother was told to use a condom. Gabi's mother is always trying to make her look more appealing to guys, but she's constantly told to never have sex. It was Gabi's awakening to the double standard, and her actively trying to do something about it -- which came near the end of the book -- that ultimately made me love this one. By the end, I was cheering for Gabi, for her attitude toward her life, her willingness to work for her dreams, and for Quintero's unflinching portrayal of her.