Book Review: Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Self-harm, sexual abuse, substance abuse, suicide, sexual assault, physical abuse. This book…this is a heavy book. But I think it’s fucking angelic so I’m gonna talk about it.

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Name: Girl in Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 30, 2016


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.

Book Cover Comments

This cover makes me so, agonizingly sad, but I appreciate it because, when you pick up this book, you have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. And I think that’s important, because I don’t know if everyone is ready to read this book. Some people may not be ready. If you saw the TWs and saw the cover and think “I might not be ready for this” that’s okay, but I’d stop reading.

The Actual Review

I didn’t quite understand what I was going to be reading about when I picked up Girl In Pieces. I knew, but I didn’t really know, you know?

The book is about Charlie Davis, who is released from a facility after nearly killing herself with a shard of glass. When she gets out, she goes to live in Arizona at the behest of her friend from life “Before” her near-death. There, she gets a job at a coffee shop.

I’ll leave it at that for now, because I don’t want to give everything away.

Girl in Pieces is told in a series of vignettes, and the writing is both lyrical and hauntingly tragic. Glasgow studied poetry in college, and she dredged up a lot of her own past to write Girl–and you can tell. That sort of thing shows. You’ll read it and know it was written by someone who knows exactly how Charlie’s feeling, because they felt it at one point, too.

The book will make you want to weep. It’s full of allusions to Charlie’s innocence, despite the Serious Shit she’s been through, so no matter how dark it gets for her in the book, you always understand she’s still a teenager, just a girl. A “baby,” as a character from Girl calls her; there’s so much conflict in that reality, it makes the book almost painful to read. But it’s just so damn powerful. Fucking angelic (that’s a reference to the book, see what I did there?)

The characters are all really fleshed out, and even when they’re not behaving well, you can’t help but pity them, and want to help them. Which is problematic and troubling and beautiful in itself; Glasgow really knows how to tug on the heartstrings and that silly little thing called human nature. There’s one character in particular, Riley, and I think he’s the kind of person who’s accompanied by a sigh, and you’re not sure if it should be an irritated sigh or just a heavy, sad sigh, all you know is that you’re sighing. That’s Riley. The author says she’s been told by many readers that, “They all had Riley’s at one point.” You get what kind of person I’m talking about.

The beautiful about Girl is that even though it’s really real, and not in a happy way, but in a brutal, crush-your-bones and step-on-your-heart, it’s consistently relatable, even if you, personally, don’t suffer from the same struggles as Charlie. She’s completely foreign to some people and yet you totally get her. I think it’s really powerful (sorry these observations aren’t stellar, I just finished it and I’m still crying). It’s also hopeful. Hopeful. Take that in. Wow. Just wow.

This book isn’t for everyone. It’s dark, messy, and scary. But if you think you can handle it, it’s worth your time and energy. Beautiful and powerful, Girl in Pieces will haunt your soul just a little bit.

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