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Gabi: A Girl in Pieces.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces

Isabel Quintero

Cinco Puntos Press

701 Texas, El Paso, Texas 79901

9781935955948, $17.95,

At age sixteen, Gabi is a senior in high school who faces too many adult problems, from a girlfriend's pregnancy and a classmate's coming out as gay to her father's meth habit. It's not as if any of these forces of angst haven't existed before: just that being on the cusp of adulthood makes her life feel more intense, unpredictable, and out of control.

With a home that offers no more stability than the uncertain outside world, friendships that prove mercurial, and Gabi's own choices proving elusive and challenging, the crux of Gabi: A Girl in Pieces lies in a saga that takes a typical American girl and adds a dimension of ethnic understanding into the mix: "I don't necessarily agree with that whole wait-until-you're-married crap though. I mean, this is America and the twenty-first century, not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can't tell my mom that because she'll think I'm bad. Or worse: trying to be White."

Gabi's changing world requires her to shift as well; something her parents don't always understand or support: "When I used to be friends with Sandra, my mom was (and sometimes even now) always comparing me to her. She can't seem to understand why I'm not friends with her anymore.

I try to explain, but she just doesn't get it. There are things I can't tell my mom either. I can't tell her how Sandra used to make me feel like shit. Especially around boys. Boys like her skinny hips, big butt, long hair, white teeth, big smile and stylish name-brand clothes. Because price is no object when you're a Sandra."

From sexual awakening and exploration to self-assessment, Gabi's journey is anything but 'vanilla'; and while its tone may offend some (it's not recommended for collections that are stricter about sexual mention and teen pregnancy, for example), it is a powerful account for those seeking realistic urban characters.

Gabi's eyes are wide open to the world and this includes a healthy dose of frank assessments, swearing, and a gritty, observational style. Gabi is anything but demure, and her world is anything but WASP--thus the nuances of Mexican-American culture aren't just captured, here: they're embedded, making Gabi: A Girl in Pieces a highly recommended pick for any collection looking for a story told in letters, vignettes, diary entries, and candid color.

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Publication:California Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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