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Gabi, A Girl In Pieces, by Isabel Quintero.

October 20, 2014

Gabi, A Girl In Pieces, by Isabel Quintero. Cinco Puntos Press (Forthcoming Fall 2014).

A fresh, intelligent account of a Latina’s senior year in high school with all its pain and joy.

Gabriela Hernandez is a bright, feisty young woman who copes with the stresses in her life by writing in her journal.  This novel is structured as what she writes in her last year of high school.  Some of her stresses are ones almost universal among teenagers, like identity, sexuality and self-acceptance. Other issues she faces, like rape, abortion, and gay-bashing, also plague many other American high school students today. An additional problem for Gabi is that her family is barely functional. Her father is a meth addict, and her mother pressures her to be a nice, traditional Mexican girl. Yet as she writes, Gabi faces what she is feeling and finds ways to love and find joy in her life. She gains confidence and a boyfriend through her poetry class and learns that love and anger can co-exist. Gabi may grieve, rage, and eat too much,  she remains upbeat and caring.  She is able to put the pieces of her life together.I loved Gabi with her intensity and her determination to find the words to express what she is doing and feeling.  She has given me a glimpse into how teenagers are coping that made me hopeful for the future.

Gabi is the first novel to be published by Isabel Quintero, a Latina who admits that her subject is much like she and her friends had been as high schoolers. Only she adds, Gabi has more problems and is braver. She describes how a fifth-grade writing assignment and a teacher’s encouraging words set her on the path of writing.  “It was the first time I realized that writing gave me a voice.  On paper I could control a world that felt out of control.”  Creating Gabi’s distinctive voice, Qunitero helps others like her character also get a bit of control over their unstable worlds. She continues to work on various writing-related projects, and I look forward to more books from her.  Although Gabi loves her Mexican heritage, especially its foods, the book focuses more on her as a teenager than on ethnic problems.

This is a book marketed for young adults. I believe they will find a kindred soul in Gabi and perhaps absorb some of her wisdom.   But you don’t have to be a teenager to enjoy and learn from this book. I strongly recommend it to all those who teach or work with high school and college students. And I encourage older readers like myself who worry about the next generation.

I am grateful to have received an ebook version of Gabi from Cinco Puntos Press.  They are a small press “rooted on the U.S. Mexican border” and committed to publishing truly diverse books for adults, young adults, and children.  If you are interested in publications by people of color, check them out. (


One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2014 5:27 pm

    Sounds like a great book! I might read it. Great review

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