Isabel Quintero

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

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Gabi, a Girl in Pieces Summary

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Gabi, a Girl in Pieces is a children’s book by Isabel Quintero, published in 2014. Quintero uses a diary format to present Gabi’s life as a senior in high school struggling with family, body image, and sexual issues in a frank way.

The book begins with a diary entry in which Gabi recounts the story of her birth; she was named after her grandmother, who beat her mother when she learned she was pregnant without being married. Gabi expresses amazement at this, stating this formed the foundation of her sexual education. Her mother tells her to keep her “eyes open and legs closed” when she goes out with boys, which Gabi doesn’t mind, although she thinks this reflects her mother’s old-fashioned thinking, as if they were still in Mexico. However, she does not dare say this to her mother because it would be her trying to “be white.”

Enjoying her summer vacation before senior year in high school, Gabi is sad that the summer is about to end; she has been enjoying all the food that comes with summer. At the same time, she wants to lose weight, feeling unattractive. Gabi’s best friends are Cindy and Sebastian; Cindy tells Gabi she has become pregnant, and Sebastian is kicked out of his house when he comes out as gay to his parents. Gabi is harsh towards Cindy, criticizing her angrily for not using a condom when she had sex.

In school, Gabi works hard at both her classes and her college applications. She dreams of being admitted to Berkeley, but worries she doesn’t have the grades. She is constantly distracted by crushes on cute boys in her class. However, Gabi never acts on these crushes because she does not see herself as pretty due to her weight. A boy in Algebra class, Eric Ramirez, asks her out on a date; Gabi experiences her first kiss with him on their date. She observes Sebastian skipping school and using drugs with his boyfriend, and though she knows he’s going through a hard time, this angers her. Thinking of what drugs have done to her own father, she gets angrier still.

Gabi’s father appears, causing turmoil. Her father has been addicted to methamphetamine since his youth; he disappears for weeks and months and then returns. Gabi has seen him high many times; she worries that someday she will hear he has been found dead. This time, Gabi’s father announces his determination to be sober, and for a little while, her mother allows him back into her bed. Gabi is concerned because he believes he can beat his addiction without any help; predictably, he relapses very quickly.

Gabi is disturbed to learn her mother is pregnant. She worries this will prevent her from escaping to college, because she might be expected to stay home to help raise her new brother.

Gabi sees Eric kissing another girl, and realizes she doesn’t actually like him much; she was only physically attracted to him. She breaks up with him. She begins bonding with Martin, a boy in her poetry class. Martin is sensitive and shares her love for poetry and writing. Gabi begins to see poetry as a way of connecting to the past and to her own feelings.

Gabi discovers her father dead in the garage one February morning. Devastated, she sinks into a severe depression, dropping out of her life. Her friends rally around her, forcing her to take the first steps back from her grief, a process capped by the births of both Cindy and her mother’s babies. Gabi is overjoyed for both and thinks her baby brother is a good omen for her family.

The joy is soured when Cindy admits to Gabi that her baby is the product of rape—the father, a boy named German, forced himself on her. Gabi confronts German angrily, attacking him, and knocking him down, then slapping his face in fury. As a result, Gabi is suspended and barred from walking in her graduation. At home, Gabi regrets letting her emotions get the better of her, worrying that she has ruined her friendship with Cindy. When she sees Cindy, her friend is angry and tells her she had no right to seek revenge on her behalf, but then relents and forgives her, telling her she knows it came from a place of love. They reconcile and are friends again.

Gabi, Martin, Cindy, and Sebastian attend a graduation party with their other friends. Gabi looks around at her life and has a moment of peace, realizing that for all the worry and drama, everything will work out if she keeps working on her life.