The 2017 Abe Lincoln Book Award Nominees were announced a little over a month ago and my goal each year is to try to read as many as I can off this list to promote to students at our high school.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces is one of the nominees that I had to read right away. It takes an honest look at a Mexican American girl as she chronicles her senior year experiences in her diary.
Summary by Goodreads:
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.
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.
This is one of those books that I know many of our students will connect with on a personal level. Many of our Hispanic girls will be able to relate to Gabi’s stories and will laugh/cry along with her throughout the story. Even though I am not fluent in Spanish, I enjoyed how Quintero mixed her Spanish and English in each diary entry which made the story even more realistic. Some may see this book being too stereotypical or full of cliches. (Gabi’s dad is a drug addict. Gabi’s mom gets pregnant. Gabi’s brother is a troublemaker. One of Gabi’s best friends gets pregnant as well and her other best friend is gay.) Even with all these predictable YA themes, Quintero writes in a way that made me fall in love with Gabi and the chaos in her life. 4 Stars – Well written and worthy of a Abe Nominee!