Publication Date: August 30, 2016
It’s been about twelve hours since I finished reading Girl in Pieces and scenes from the novel still play in my head like film strips. This debut novel by Kathleen Glasgow is masterfully constructed and presented. The chapters frequently just pieces as the title would indicate.
Charlie is seventeen years old and has been living on the streets since her mother kicked her out of the house, and then her best friend, Ellis, whose family she started living with, blamed Charlie for the drugs that actually belonged to her boyfriend. Charlie’s always cut herself, but after a particularly bad event, she winds up in a psychiatric hospital with other girls who self-harm. From there, Charlie goes to Tucson courtesy of Mikey, an old friend of hers who Charlie’s always had a crush on.
What makes Girl in Pieces so affecting is that nothing is glossed over. Charlie’s pain, her self-loathing, her distrust, all ride very close to the surface, the reader feels them intensely. If you’ve ever been affected deeply by addiction of any kind, whether your own or someone else’s, you will recognize the darkness for what it is. You will recognize a pervasive sense of lack of control, of pessimism, of fear, of the always palpable sensation that this “thing” is too big and will swallow everything. References are made to the “cereal eating you up” rather than you eating the cereal.
This is probably just the kind of book that I would have stayed away from because of its dark subject matter, but a few months ago I blithely started entering to win all kinds of ARCs, shall I say, heedlessly. The first error book was The Red Bandanna and you can read that review here; it’s a book about 9/11 and I have been zealousy staying away from those books. And, simply, any books in which you know pain in reading is going to be involved like Girl in Pieces, which I also received through an ARC contest. Let me state simply, I am fervently glad that I have read both of these books. Sometimes you have to revisit pains of all types in order to learn more about yourself and appreciate more fully and more exactly your life without pain or darkness.
Girl in Pieces isn’t an easy read. It’s not supposed to be. As I mentioned above, the chapters are sometimes short fragments, like pieces to a puzzle. They are observations. They are like the jagged lines etched on flesh. They are the sketches of the people you see. Sometimes the invisible people on the periphery of your existence.
I loved the characters in Girl in Pieces. I understood Charlie being enamored with Riley, the once significant music star. I understood that he was a mess, a charming mess, and that he had the capability to bring her down with him. With the exception of Wendy (and she’s not given enough book-time to warrant it), all of the characters are developed. These are like real people and even though they have their foibles, I liked reading about them, spending time with them.
And, despite its darkness, I was sorry to read the final page and leave this novel, although I felt hope at its finale.
I received an ARC from Random House in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: Girl in Pieces
rating: (5 out of 5 butterflies)