When a book rips my heart out and gives me all the feels, including hope, and it isn’t even in my preferred genre, then I know I’ve found something very special. That’s what happened with Girl in Pieces, Kathleen Glasgow’s brilliant, layered, and gut wrenching young adult debut novel, coming in August 2016.
I got an advanced reader copy (ARC) at Book Con. I almost didn’t take it because I’m a sci-fi/fantasy girl. But all writers should read “out of genre” once in a while and I’m so glad I did.* The story begins with Charlie, a 17-year-old girl, left bleeding, wrapped in a sheet, outside of a hospital in Minnesota. Charlie’s journey is one of extreme loss and inner turmoil that sees her living on the streets, engaging in self-harm, moving to a community in Arizona, and trying to heal even though she doesn’t always make the best choices. This story is not just Charlie’s; it’s drawn from Glasgow’s personal experiences with self-harm. It’s raw and honest, and should probably come with a trigger warning. I lost a friend to cancer while I was reading it and had to put it down for a bit. The emotions the story evoked are that real and that beautiful.
Charlie tells her own story and Glasgow’s voice is engaging and unique, hopping from memories to present interactions to Charlie’s inner monologue and physical sensations in seamless snippets and succinct chapters. She captures the complex, multi-layered psyche and experiences of a recovering addict, trauma survivor, and teenage girl in prose that is at times both soft and lithe, jagged and violent. The supporting characters are equally nuanced and engaging, many with their own demons to battle.
It’s rare that the story of abuse, trauma, and shame so unique to women, especially young women, is told so well and with so little room to misunderstand or be written off as unrealistic. This is a story for both boys and girls, men and women. It needs to be told and it needs to be heard. Charlie is the girl next to you at school, on the bus, on the street. Get this book as soon as it’s available and pass it on when you’re done.
Sarah Parker-Lee is managing co-editor of Kite Tales, reviews books for Dwarf+Giant, & writes for non-profits fighting injustice all over the interwebs. She is also available to edit your novels & writerly endeavors. She writes YA alt. history & sci-fi. Her humor blog, Dogs and Zombies: A Dog’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, shambles towards your tasty brains Summer-ish 2016. Twitterings: @SarahSoNovel