Book Review: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

GENRE: 

Young Adult, Contemporary

PAGES: 

284 pages

PART OF A SERIES?:

Standalone Novel

RELEASE DATE: 

October 14th, 2014

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GOODREADS SUMMARY: 

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

July 24

My mother named me Gabriella, 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.

MY REVIEW:

I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am, the more that I discover Latina writers out there, especially ones that write about the difficulties of being different when you’re a teenager and part of a fairly traditional Mexican family. I was in love with Lilliam Rivera’s book and then I freaking adored Erika Sanchez’s book and I was excited to read this one, especially with Isabel being a guest at Ontario Teen Book Fest.

I loved that this was in journal format. It reminded me of The Princess Diaries, which was the first YA book I read when I was 12. I wrote in a journal from the time I was 14 until the time I was about 22 (I’m sort of doing one again) and I remember it being such a relief and I remember scribbling about the many, many boys that I was so crazy about it and writing out intense poems that I sort of laugh at now. It was the forefront to my writing career.

There’s something very personal about reading a journal and we really get a look into Gabi’s mind as she navigates her way through her last year of school, with her friends and family and boys and reachers, and there are moments that make me laugh and moments that make me so heartbroken and moments that felt so insanely familiar. There’s something about being different, individual, independent, when you’re the daughter and granddaughter and niece in a Mexican family and it’s sometimes hard to put into words…its hard enough to be a teen but its even harder when you’re one that is even more trouble than a normal teen. You want to go away to college?! You want to date and wear make up?! Why are you always reading?! What is feminism and jeans?! Of course its fine if your brother does that, but you totally cannot! Isabel does such a great job of capturing what its like to be a Mexican teen girl for sure.

I love that Isabel touches up on so many different things: the difficulties of being a teenager, having friends that are coming out or having a baby, a troublesome brother, a drug addicted father, an overbearing mother (and aunt…and well, the rest of the Mexican family that seems to always be around…) and I connected it in so many ways, even in the ways that weren’t actually personal to me. She writes a compelling story and gives Gabi such a strong voice, especially through her love and talent with poetry. I’m not one for poetry but the poetry in this novel was so raw and genuine and I loved that it really captured everything that Gabi was feeling. I’m so excited to meet Isabel next month and I can’t wait to see what more she creates.

RATING:

4 out of 5 Stars

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