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Gabi, a girl in pieces
2014
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Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy's pregnancy, friend Sebastian's coming out, her father's meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially, the poetry that helps forge her identity. - (Baker & Taylor)

Gabi's a girl in pieces. She wants a lot of things. Will she find the thing she needs most?
- (Perseus Publishing)

Named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014

Named to School Library Journal Best Books of 2014

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.

Isabel Quintero is a library technician in the Inland Empire. She is also the events coordinator for Orange Monkey and helps edit the poetry journal Tin Cannon. Gabi is her debut novel.


Named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014

Named to School Library Journal Best Books of 2014

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.

Isabel Quintero is an award-winning writer from the Inland Empire of Southern California. She is also the daughter of Mexican immigrants. In addition to Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, she has also written a chapter book series for young readers, Ugly Cat and Pablo (Scholastic, Inc.), a non-fiction YA graphic biography, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications, 2018), which received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, and most recently, a picture book, My Papi Has a Motorcycle (Kokila, 2019). Isabel also writes poetry and essays. Her work can be found in The Normal School, Huizache, The Acentos Review, As/Us Journal, The James Franco Review, and other publications.

- (Perseus Publishing)

Author Biography

Isabel Quintero is an award-winning writer from the Inland Empire of Southern California. She is also the daughter of Mexican immigrants. In addition to Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, she has also written a chapter book series for young readers, Ugly Cat and Pablo (Scholastic, Inc.), a non-fiction YA graphic biography, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications, 2018), which received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, and most recently, a picture book, My Papi Has a Motorcycle (Kokila, 2019). Isabel also writes poetry and essays. Her work can be found in The Normal School, Huizache, The Acentos Review, As/Us Journal, The James Franco Review, and other publications. - (Perseus Publishing)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Reading Quintero's debut is like attending a large family fiesta: it's overpopulated with people, noise, and emotion, but the overall effect is joyous. Presented as the diary of 17-year-old Mexican American Gabi, it covers a senior year ostensibly filled with travail, from a first kiss to first sex; from dealing with a meth-head father to a constantly shaming mother; from the pregnancies of two classmates to Gabi's own fear of becoming "Hispanic Teen Mom #3,789,258." But that makes the book sound pedantic, and it's anything but. Unlike most diary-format novels, this truly feels like the product of a teenager used to dealing with a lot of life's b.s. Sure, she is depressed at times, but just as often she is giddy with excitement about her new boyfriend (and then the one after that), or shrugging at the weight she just doesn't feel like losing. If there is a structuring element, it's the confidence-building poems Gabi writes for composition class, which read just like the uncertain early work of a nonetheless talented fledgling writer. Quintero, on the other hand, is utterly confident, gifting us with a messy, complicated protagonist who isn't defined by ethnicity, class, weight, or lifestyle. Gabi is purely herself—and that's what makes her universal. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Gabi, a light-skinned Hispanic girl who is maybe a little bit too curvy, is no stranger to trouble. Her father is a meth addict, her brother's a budding graffiti artist, her best friend's pregnant, and another friend is homeless after coming out to his father. Blisteringly honest diary entries mix with poetry to create a beautifully distinct and powerful voice.

Kirkus Reviews

Struggles with body image, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, rape, coming out, first love and death are all experiences that touch Gabi's life in some way during her senior year, and she processes her raw and honest feelings in her journal as these events unfold. Gabi's family life is unbalanced. Her father is a drug addict who comes in and out of her life sporadically. Her mother tries desperately to keep her tethered to the values of her traditional Mexican heritage. Gabi's weight, her desire to go away to college and her blossoming sexuality are all at odds with what she feels are expected from her as a young Mexican-American woman. The teen is deeply bonded with her two best friends, Cindy and Sebastian, who each struggle themselves with the tension between sexuality and culture. Through poetry, Gabi finds her voice and develops the confidence to be true to herself. With this first novel, Quintero excels at presenting a life that is simultaneously messy and hopeful. Readers won't soon forget Gabi, a young woman coming into her own in the face of intense pressure from her family, culture and society to fit someone else's idea of what it means to be a "good" girl. A fresh, authentic and honest exploration of contemporary Latina identity. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Quintero's first novel quickly establishes a strong voice and Mexican-American cultural perspective through the journal of intelligent, self-deprecating, and funny Gabi. The 17-year-old is navigating considerable conflict both at home and in her social life: her father is addicted to meth, while Gabi's strict mother pressures her to conform to her own views of their heritage and values. Gabi, who seeks comfort through binge eating, wants to grow up on her own terms, and she explores her awakening romantic and sexual feelings by writing poetry. Quintero unsentimentally confronts a gay teenager's coming out, teen pregnancy, date rape, abortion, addiction, and other topics while sketching the contradictory pressures facing Gabi, who feels caught between two worlds ("Being Mexican-American is tough sometimes. Your allegiance is always questioned"). Gabi's letters to her father are particularly moving, and her narration is fresh, self-aware, and reflective. The intimate journal structure of the novel is especially revealing as Gabi gains confidence in her own integrity and complexity: "I guess there is more to this fat girl than even this fat girl ever knew." Ages 14–up. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez has a lot to deal with during her senior year. Her best friend Cindy is pregnant; her other best friend Sebastian just got kicked out of his house for coming out to his strict parents; her meth addict dad is trying to quit, again; and her super religious Tía Bertha is constantly putting a damper on Gabi's love life. In lyrical diary entries peppered with the burgeoning poet's writing, Spanglish, and phone conversations, Quintero gives voice to a complex, not always likable but totally believable teen who struggles to figure out her own place in the world. Believing she's not Mexican enough for her family and not white enough for Berkeley, Gabi still meets every challenge head-on with vulgar humor and raw honesty. In moments, the diary format may come across as clunky, but the choppy delivery feels purposeful. While the narrative is chock-full of issues, they never bog down the story, interwoven with the usual teen trials, from underwhelming first dates to an unabashed treatment of sex, religion, and family strife. The teen isn't all snark; there's still a naiveté about whether her father will ever kick his addiction to meth, especially evident in her heartfelt letters to him. When tragedy strikes, readers will mourn with Gabi and connect with her fears about college acceptance and her first sexual experience. A refreshing take on slut- and fat-shaming, Quintero's work ranks with Meg Medina's Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick, 2013) and Junot Diaz's Drown (Riverhead, 1996) as a coming-of-age novel with Latino protagonists.—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

[Page 104]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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