This month, the LIT book club finished out the last of our genre summer reading with Isabel Quintero’s wonderful Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, a young adult novel recommended by librarian Lizzy Klinnert. In this Lincoln Award-winner (given for excellent YA literature), seventeen-year-old Gabi is dealing with some heavy issues. One friend is pregnant, and another is gay and has been kicked out of her house. Meanwhile, Gabi’s own father is a meth addict, and her mom struggles with her expectations for her daughter and oft-delinquent son. And then, of course, there are boys.
While the plot might sound heavy and angsty, it’s anything but. Told through Gabi’s journal entries, poetry, and even a short zine, it follows a girl finding herself and her voice as she becomes a strong, independent woman with big plans for the future. Gabi is a wonderful character. She’s hilarious (and very sweary), brave but vulnerable, wise and thoughtful. Though this novel is filtered through the lens of Gabi’s Mexican-American heritage, it will resonate with pretty much anyone who has survived adolescence.
Why It’s Good For Book Groups
There are issues galore in Gabi, the sorts of things that most people face to one degree or another as they grow up. Our group had a wonderful conversation about poetry and art, how they shape and sustain us. We talked about the challenges that kids face growing up as part of two cultures, as well as kids who don’t fit in. Sexuality was a big theme for us, too. During the course of the book, Gabi likes and dates a few different boys. Through her journal entries, she explores, in a healthy way, what’s comfortable for her, and what she expects from a relationship.
Resources We Used
There are so many questions available for this book! Some high schools are using this book as part of curriculum, so you’ll find lots of Common Core Standards guides. There are many interviews with the author available, as well.
What’s Up Next
Next month, we’ll be discussing When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, an honest and lovely look at what really matters, through the eyes of a medical student with terminal cancer.