“Jiggly bits and pieces. Too many rolls. My legs are thin, but I wish my thighs didn’t touch. Ugh. I need to do something about this weight.” These are the intrusive thoughts constantly surrounding Gabi, the protagonist of Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. Unable to see herself as worth loving because of the way her body is, Gabi’s story is common for many teenagers and adults.
This narrative hit home for me.
Quintero is able to reach a personal level with her readers through Gabi. The dialogue and her use of journal entries and poetry to unfold the plot make Gabi’s thoughts and events feel genuine.
Gabi not only deals with body politics and self-image, but with teenage pregnancy, LGBT rights, religion, drug addiction and traditional Latinx gender roles and structure. At times her story feels overwhelming because there’s so much going on and very difficult topics are discussed, however, it never feels preachy or fake. Sometimes the way these topics are handled aren’t very satisfying, but it feels like the novel is staying true to itself rather than to please an audience. For example, Sebastian is one of Gabi’s best friends. He comes out to his parents that he’s gay, they kick him out and ends up living with his aunt. There’s never any mention about his parents in the rest of the novel or his feelings about being alienated from his family. The fact that his aunt makes him go to conversion prayer sessions is mentioned but again, we still never hear how Sebastian feels.
Throughout the novel, Gabi releases her emotions through different DIY literary scenes. Firstly, she creates a zine with poetry and cut up magazines and as someone who’s into indie writing and zines, I dug it. Also, there’s a hilarious open mic scene in the middle of the novel that is all too reminiscent of open mics I’ve seen. Lastly, the book contains a lot of Gabi’s poetry, some are long but worth reading.
Overall, the novel captures a good portrait of many teenagers’ and adults’ body struggles. Though Gabi goes through tough times, she never portrays herself as the victim. Her weak points show that even the strongest people can be vulnerable. Gabi feels like a real person, something only an amazing writer can achieve.
Read the book here.
Written by Kelly Duarte.