I wasn’t sure about the cover of A Girl in Pieces or requesting a hardcover book. I dislike hardcover books, because I read paperbacks better. I like how paperback books are bendable and not, like, hard.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Delacorte Press on 30 August, 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Mental health, Young adult
# pages: 416
Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
I made the mistake of reading others’ reviews before even requesting this book—I try to avoid reading reviews from others when it comes to books I like, which is kind of funny considering I’m writing up a book review post to be read by others later, because I prefer to go into a book without bias. I don’t want to be let down by the promise I’ll like it from someone else’s review.
And, for some reason, it didn’t dawn on me that this book might be hella triggering until it was in my hands and I was on the first page.
This book is legit about cutting. If you’re easily triggered by this topic, you should not continue on reading this post.
Thoughts on the writing
I’m not big on this trend of first-person point-of-view and present tense, because third-person point-of-view and past tense is my medium. There was also a plethora of commas—both serial and redundant—that made reading it difficult sometimes. In the many lists, semicolons would have worked better and helped to separate the various thoughts of Charlie.
It was weird how there were zero chapters, but I guess it’s kind of like a journal or something (but journals written in present tense seem weird).
The writing of this book played greatly with the “write how you talk” advice that is not supposed to be taken literally, and it gave me a headache a lot of the time. I don’t think a great story means you needn’t mind grammar and punctuation. If it’s hard to read and/or understand at times because of the writing, it’s a problem…isn’t it?
Thoughts on the plot
Whilst I’ve never lived on the streets, I really related to Charlie’s self-destructive behavior, self-harming, PTSD and depression. She begins a relationship with a guy almost ten years her senior, but the age difference isn’t mentioned between the two of them—they just fall for each other, or at least she does for him, in the midst of their own self-destruction.
Shit happens. You think you’re recovering, and your life is good and great and grand—until it’s not.
I found myself crying after I’d pull away from reading several fifty-to-one hundred pages. I couldn’t peel away from it in some instances, because it was like a lovely hug. This fictional character knew exactly how I felt—understood why I used to self-harm right down to the absolute need—on every single page. She understood the struggle to be “good” and the battle within oneself who self-harms revolving around being “good” vs. hurting yourself.
Thoughts on the cover
Several reviewers mentioned not understanding the cover, but I think I got it. I had to read the whole book and look at it again to understand it. I took the cover off, though, so I didn’t see it every time I read it; I disliked the noise it made every time I’d open the book again. Thus, the cover wasn’t constantly on my mind.
- I think Charlie’s favorite color is pink. She kept admiring girls with pink hair, and she had pink dishes. It’s more cliche than I like, but whatever. A favorite color is a favorite color.
- The eraser-looking text is an attempt to disappear; it’s messy, and it’s a little faded, but it’s never completely gone.
- The red strikes through the text represent cuts; if you look closely, the ends especially resemble the way the end of a cut looks.
Based on those three assumptions, the cover of the book fits. And really, I guess it worked: the cover drew me in. I wasn’t going to request it because it was pink, hardcover and well over 300 pages. But the red lines through the text kept calling to me, and then I requested it. And if I was at a book store, I would have bought it.
It’s a book for all the cutters. It’s a fucking angelic hug from a cutter saying, “You’re not alone.” And I guess it attracts cutters.
Be fucking angelic.
I love how Charlie holds onto something an old friend would say and how fucking angelic is carried along with her throughout the book.
I don’t usually read the notes from authors or acknowledgements, but I did, and I liked Kathleen Glasgow’s. She reminds her readers to use their voice through whichever medium is their specialty—what’s your voice? Charlie’s is drawing. Glasgow’s is writing. Mine is writing.
It’s a reminder to use my voice, a reminder that my story is important. It reminds me why my writing is important.
Best of all, it really breaks the taboo between cutting and talking about it.
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“Keeping You a Secret” by Julie Anne Peters | Janepedia
[…] thought Keeping You a Secret was well-written. The story itself is similar to that of Girl in Pieces, only coming out replaces the self-harm aspect. I wish I would have had a book like this available […]
This was an interesting review. I thought that the triggers might be hard to deal with… personally, I really struggle to read about cutting. Mainly because me coming out of depression was me in complete disbelief that I was able to physically do something like that to myself. It gives me the shakes ? I don’t know if I would have survived the few hundred pages. But now I’m a little more interested to find out more about this book.
It doesn’t talk much about her actually doing it; there are a few places in which she wants to—loves the pain when her bandage is being pulled off—but the only instance of her deliberately harming herself is when she walks through glass, and even then it’s very brief. The lot of the story is Charlie coming out of it—the depression and wanting to cut—and I enjoyed reading that process about someone else, even if for a fictional character, because it was like I was getting to talk to someone who got it. And then there are some coping methods I sort of found myself doing after reading a lot of it, like saying, “The cereal is not eating me.” It’s more about the process and battle of coming out of a state of self-harm, of trying to live life with the scars from self-harm, and of finding a village of people in the midst of having a mom who kicked her out, essentially turning her into an orphan at seventeen.
It’s bittersweet. I did have to force myself away in some instances, though. And I kept thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t read this, maybe I shouldn’t read this,” but then it kept drawing me back (for some reason). There are also some hilarious instances; it’s like a lighter, but also more in-depth Speak, but also like if Speak and Girl, Interrupted had a baby.
I definitely think it should be read with caution, if and when read by people for whom this story is dedicated (“for the cutters and people who know them”).