“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.”
― Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces
Title: Girl in Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: August 30, 2016
Synopsis From Goodreads:
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
This is going to be one of those reviews where my words simply cannot convey how beautiful and heartbreaking the story really is. Sometimes you just have to read things yourself to understand the full scope of the words, but I’ll try my best!
Girl in Pieces was NOT an easy read for me. It took a long time for me to finish, but it wasn’t because of any fault in the writing. It is a very… I’m going to call it “heavy” read that deals with a lot of rough situations and difficult subjects. I am not typically one to read such, so I was a little out of my element. I originally picked up the book because I saw lots of really amazing reviews floating around youTube, and I am addressing some of the same mental health factors in my own work in progress. I thought it would help me out with research for my story to read from a character’s perspective who had those issues, but I really didn’t expect to get sucked into the story like I did!
The entire book is narrated in first person by Charlie Davis, a 17 year old girl who has gone through more than anybody should ever have to go through in a lifetime. Her father committed suicide, her best friend committed suicide, her mother abused her physically and emotionally, and the only source of comfort she came to know was her “tender kit,” a box containing the pieces of a broken mason jar and everything she needed to patch up her own cuts. She wrote her pain on her own body; every physical scar came to represent a much deeper internal scar that no one but herself could see. She shut the world out, built up a wall, refused to let even herself in sometimes.
Charlie’s story unfolded over three parts, each part revealing another layer of character growth. The beginning is rough, choppy, and somewhat disjointed, but it wouldn’t have been true to Charlie’s character to do it any other way. Charlie isn’t a character that anyone can just instantly connect with; you have to understand her first. The middle was smoother, but had a bit of a lost quality to it. Charlie was on her own, completely alone, and didn’t have any idea how to find her place in the world. She relapsed into old ways, fought her way back to the light, got caught up into toxic situations like she had before, and fell into the darkest point of the whole story as a result. The third part came full circle. Charlie found friends, came out of the silence again, and found a place where she belonged. The writing of the final part has an almost lyrical quality to it, and it gives a sense of hope and strength for Charlie’s future.
After finishing that last page, I feel like I understand self-harm and PTSD in a way I didn’t before. It’s one thing to read out of my psychology text book, perform extensive Google searches, and watch more youTube videos than is probably necessary or healthy, but another thing entirely to read something shown through the mind of a character with a particular disorder. Like I said before, this isn’t something I would normally read. I’ll almost always pick fairies and rainbows and witches trying to kill people over a YA contemporary, but something drew me to this book because I am trying to incorporate some of the same issues into my novel with a fantasy twist. It is definitely on the darker and heavier side for a young adult novel, but I realize now that it’s important for stories like this to exist because people are in all kinds of situations. As terrible as it is, there are a LOT of teenagers in situations like Charlie’s. I actually Googled the exact statistics because of my psych nerd tendencies, but I didn’t write them down, so I’ll spare you.
Throughout the book there is a strong theme of letting your voice be heard, of letting your story be known, and at the end of the book, Charlie is ready for the world to know her story and hear her words. It stresses the need to find an outlet for emotions, be it writing, or drawing, or music. In a way, I think that writing is an outlet for authors to share their own stories with the world. Even if they create their own fantastical world from scratch, it’s still going to hold a part of them in it because it came out of their brain. I somehow managed to not cry while I was reading Girl in Pieces, but that author’s note almost did me in. You’ll understand more if you actually read it, but it is clear that Charlie Davis and her story is Kathleen Glasgow’s way of sharing part of her own story in order to make an impact. It’s books like this one that really get the message across more than any news article ever could.
■Girl in Pieces is NOT for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of blood and drugs and alcohol involved, and some harsh language. Don’t read it if you’re gonna have a problem with that, (I am warning you now!)
■This is a book that is going to make you think about some rough stuff. If you don’t wanna think, go read something with unicorns and rainbows!
■It’s a little hard to read in some places because the writing is a little choppy, but it wouldn’t be true to character otherwise.
■The ending is beautiful, and I know it will give somebody hope.
■The whole theme of the book is to let your words be heard and your story be known. Charlie made her story known by the end of it, and I know her story will help a lot of people understand those like her.
■This book is amazing, and it gets a five star rating!
Share your thoughts?
Have you, or are you planning to read Girl in Pieces? Tell me what you think of the book, (or my rambling review), in the comments or on Twitter @Cheyenne_writes!