Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book of the Week

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces

by Isabel Quintero

Published by Cinco Puntos Press, 2014
284 pages
ISBN: 978-1-935955-95-5

Age 14 and older

As her senior year begins, Gabi Hernandez learns her best friend Cindy is pregnant. In a narrative told primarily through diary entries, Gabi moves between revelations like this one, her preoccupation with both weight and boys, observations about her Mexican American family and community, and the mundane (just how hot is the food at Pepe’s House of Wings?). Gabi’s voice is funny, foul-mouthed, and, early on, unfocused: she’s just as likely as not to be trivial. This makes the transformation over the course of the school year all the more powerful. In Gabi’s own house and in the halls at school, she’s constantly reminded that girls are labeled “good” or “bad” based on sexual behavior—rumored or real—and that she’s too heavy to be considered beautiful. It all undeniably affects her. But as she responds to things happening to her and around her, including the revelation that Cindy was raped, she begins to reject pervasive ideas in her family, culture, and society that devalue and demonize girls and women. In the writing she does for a poetry class, Gabi explores her father’s addiction and other family issues, as well as body image, with linguistic precision initially lacking in her diary entries. In poems and in her diary, she eventually emerges as a passionate, articulate advocate for herself and others, tackling sexism and sexual violence and the connection between them with keen and sometimes raging honesty. Gabi never loses a funny edge—in fact, the humor becomes sharper as she does—but her voice is also unapologetically fierce. Family and friendships all inform Gabi’s understanding of and response to what it means to be a young woman and young Latina in this bold, welcome work.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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