Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Gallery of Unfinished Girls” as Want to Read:
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  646 ratings  ·  137 reviews
A beautiful and evocative look at identity and creativity, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is a stunning debut in magical realism. Perfect for fans of The Walls Around Us and Bone Gap.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her ab
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published July 25th 2017 by HarperTeen
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Gallery of Unfinished Girls, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Melissa Get a library card. If your library doesn't have it they will order it for you.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  646 ratings  ·  137 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
Dec 26, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Do I get to mark my own book as "read" now? I've been reading it on and off since 2013. I think it's done. I think it's yours now, world.

(Psst -- if you've reviewed the book here, I'd love if you copied it over to Amazon or another retail site. Doing so really helps the book find readers. Thanks!)
Elise (TheBookishActress)
on the blog!!

I'm going to be honest and say I picked this up almost exclusively because of the bi main character. And I am so, so glad I did. This book is freaking amazing and REALLY underrated.

Gallery of Unfinished Girls is an intensely beautiful magical realism story: not at all what I expected, but somehow everything I needed. Karcz manages to pull together themes about growing up, moving on, and being an artist into the same book. And it works perfectly. The message of the book develops ove
✨    jamieson   ✨
red is the colour of blood, of apples, of the T-shirt I bought on our last, worst all-Moreno family vacation .. red is flame and fury. red is thin and shallow and covers everything. red loves you back

things I have learnt about myself at age 19: I need to read whimsical books via audio instead of physical because this whimsical writing style never sticks with me (in audio form it does?)

Anyway, I guess I wanted to be more engaged with this then I was. I was so excited to read this book, and li
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls the best YA standalone book I’ve ever read.

It’s a coming-of-age magical realism novel following Mercedes Moreno, a bisexual Puerto Rican painter who finds the Red Mangrove Estate, a magical building in which every artist is the best version of themselves.

It’s also a book I find really hard to describe. It’s sad, but it’s the happiest sad book you’ll ever read. It’s character-driven and has barely any plot, but so much happens. It’s surreal, it has magic in it, and
Sarah Elizabeth
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“The estate guides us to fulfil its needs,” Lilia says, “with art and music, structure and form, color and light. But it knows what you need, too.”

This was a YA magical realism story about a girl who was an artist, but had a bit of a creative block.

Mercedes was an okay character although she seemed to lack focus a bit when it came to her art, so it was good for her when Lilia turned up to help h
Anna Priemaza
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I didn't mean to read this book. At least, not yet. But it sucked me in and refused to let go.

When Lauren sent it to me, it was just for the purpose of glancing through it to suggest a new title. I definitely wanted to read it at a future time, but I had a dozen things to do that evening, and really could only spare under an hour to glance through, get a sense of the language, and suggest some titles.

Hours later, the dozens of things I planned to do weren't done, and I was turning the final page
What a beautiful book.

Mercedes Moreno is having a tough time. Her abuela is in the hospital, she can’t figure out what to paint for the county show, and there’s a piano in her yard. Pile on top of that the college responses she’s waiting for and the fact that her best friend Victoria—the best friend who could possibly, in a perfect world, love her back—is set on leaving Florida for New York, and everything seems like it’s on a downward spiral.

Until, that is, she finds that perfect world in a mys
DNF @ Page 84. I don’t know. I’m not an artist, so pretty much all of the eighty four pages I read went over my head? She would describe brush strokes and I’m like “Okay, sure...umm, okay.” I don’t know. I don’t think I’m in the right mood for this. I don’t know if I ever will be in the right set of mood for this. The thing that made me want to pick this up was the gay girl rep, but then I found out that it never ends up going anywhere.

So like, if I’m not going to get girls in love, then what am
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
Rep: female bi Latina mc

u kno those books which r soft & quiet & make loving girls normalised rather than this Big Thing? yeah pls read this
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-releases
This was okay.

The story did pick up by the last quarter of the book, but the middle managed to bore me, so overall 3 stars seems fair.

I liked many elements of the novel, but for some reason they did not make a strong impression. I wanted more, more depth, more color...

The protagonist of The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is Mercedes. She's 17 Latinx girl, she's graduating high school, she's an artist, her best friend is dancer Victoria and Mercedes has feelings for her.
I enjoyed reading dynamics Me
Jul 27, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish
DNF at 41%.

A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

Why I did not finish The Gallery of Unfinished Girls:

I wanted to like The Gallery of Unfinished Girls. The premise sounded good, the cover is gorgeous, and it’s about a bisexual Puerto Rican girl. However, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls was just not for me, and here’s why:

1) The writing style in this book was at times incredibly simple, and at others it was filled with so many metaphors it was difficult to d
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars! *-*

Longer RTC after business trip.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 but rounding up because I have been waiting for a book like this for SO LONG and it was just as wonderful as I had hoped.
This book was so freaking beautiful, I found myself anxiously awaiting what deceptively simple but impactful phrasing would be used next. I loved its meditations on creativity and the ways it can both intertwine with and inhibit personal growth, and the sister relationship was so sweet. (And yay for A+ bi rep!) Very excited to see what this author does next.
La La
Another story that uses Magical Realism as an excuse for a series of coincedences and strange disconnected events that are just bad writing cover ups. The climax to this book was absurd. Even Magical Realism needs some sort of method to its maddness, if you know what I mean. You can't just say all of this weirdness is connected to this specific person without giving one molecule of how or why. The story was also crammed too full of forced symbolisms; many of which were cliche, or verging on clic ...more
I really liked this one. I didn't expect it to be magic realism but I was pleasantly surprised with that element. I'm a huge fan of contemporary-feeling novels that have a hint of magic in them and this was obviously no exception. The writing was spectacular and really immersive and I can't wait to see what's next from this debut author. If you're looking for a novel with a deeply immersive world and compelling/fleshed-out characters, I really recommend this one.
Arielle Walker
It's always so bizarre to read books set around art/the art world/artists. I always expect some degree of familiarity, and end up utterly bewildered - I'm yet to find one that actually speaks to the actual experiences of being an artist or working in the arts.

Anyway, tiny rant over - this is a very odd book. There are lovely moments, but most of the time things just... happen, without making any sense and for no apparent reason. As much as I love the weird and surreal, it has to be done right -
Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)
Rated 4.5 really.

An atmospheric, magical read about art, family, friendship and love, with a strong coming-of-age bone. The magical realism angle is fresh and exquisite, but the teen experience feels grounded and authentic all the same, and they perfectly intertwine. The ending is open enough to feel like life (and art), and hopeful enough to make you feel these girls will be OK - whatever that will mean. Maybe forever unfinished, but in the way that makes you search for the meaning of life (and
DNF @ 53%

It was boring and I did not care about the characters.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Lauren Karcz created a beautifully crafted novel. It doesn't have a lot of plot and is character based. For those of you that know my reading preferences you would know that I tend to prefer books that have plot over being character driven. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the writing is this just wasn’t for me. I would still highly recommend you try it for yourself. If you are the kind of reader who gets attached to characters and doesn’t need plot to drive you forward in a story this is the book ...more
Lauren ✨ (YABookers)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

I absolutely adored The Gallery of Unfinished Girls. It follows Mercedes Moreno, an artist lacking inspiration and struggling to follow up her award winning Food Poisoning #1. Her lack of inspiration could be because her Abuela is lying in a coma in Puerto Rico after suffering from a stroke, or because she's hopelessly in love with her best friend Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her feelings. But then art begins to appear
This feels like a book I should have liked, but I just didn't. In fact, I'm not sure I could tell you why I bothered to finish this. I didn't feel connected to the characters and the magic realism of this story just did not work for me (and in other books, it definitely has). I found the ending a bit of a let-down. Just not the book for me.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quiet in some ways, but beautiful characters and some of the best magical realism in YA that I've read.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-debut
I'll admit it: I added this book to my TBR simply because of the flamingos (Note to publishers: if you put a flamingo on a book, there's a 99.99% I will buy/read it because my love for flamingos is just that strong).

Thankfully, Lauren Karcz's The Gallery of the Unfinished Girls contains so much more than just a pretty cover! Lush, introspective, and a tad bit eccentric, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls chronicles the eventful, life changing year of the Moreno sisters.

The Gallery of the Unfinish
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
“Maybe potential is all I have: energy, all held-up and trembling, waiting to be set free.”

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls has an ephemeral magic that surrounds you as you’re reading the story. It wraps you in comfort and possibility and creativity. We follow Mercedes Moreno, struggling art student, as she tries to find her clarity after being unable to finish a piece over the past year. New neighbor, Lilia Solis, brings possibility with the mysterious Red Mangrove Estate, where Merc
Dakota★Magic in Every Book
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I was really drawn into it and enjoyed many aspects of it, but it was also confusing and vague and I'm not entirely sure what the author meant for me to take away from this story. My rating is probably closer to 3.5 stars but I rounded down since eveything about the Estate baffled me. Maybe I'm too literal-minded for magical realism (thats how the book is described but I couldn't say one way or the other if it does fit the category of magical reali ...more
This was clever and enjoyable magical realism, but it suffered from a lack of character development. I found Victoria to be a really uninteresting love interest, though I appreciated how Mercedes learned to accept her bisexual identity through her feelings for Vic. I just wish I knew why Vic was so worthy of those feelings.

(view spoiler)
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
DNFed after about 30% of the book, sadly. The characters and story weren't holding my attention one little bit.

Regardless, hooray for Mercedes and her sister Angela being Puerto Rican! Also, Mercedes is bisexual. Can't forget that important detail!
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
*4.25 stars*

Wow, I loved this. Gorgeous writing, relatable characters, and the perfect amount of magic. So much amazing commentary on being a creative, too. Highly recommend this one!
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wlw, 1-3, ya, altered-states
The last 50 or so pages redeemed an otherwise competent yet unremarkable narrative. It's more about grief and loss and growing up than anything the blurb has to say, and that part of it is handled pretty well. As is the bisexual representation.

The snags were in the magical realism and the love interest.

With the former, I kind of wanted the Magically Real™ locale to read more like the liminal place it was supposed to be and less like an artsy cult warren. At one point I actually shouted out loud
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • It's Not Like It's a Secret
  • How to Make a Wish
  • 10 Things I Can See from Here
  • A Season of Daring Greatly
  • We Are the Wildcats
  • Let's Talk About Love
  • What I Want You to See
  • Finding Orion
  • Zen and the Art of Faking It
  • See What I See
  • Rogue Princess
  • Like Water
  • Echo After Echo
  • How to Be Luminous
  • Our Own Private Universe
  • Little & Lion
  • Dating Sarah Cooper
  • Symptoms of a Heartbreak
See similar books…
Lauren Karcz is a fan of books, dogs, long sentences, Broadway shows, adverbs, and wandering art museums. She's a professional language nerd, having worked as an ESL teacher, a language test developer, and now as a writer. Lauren lives with her family in Atlanta.

THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS is Lauren's debut novel. It was a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection and a 2019 ALA Rainbow List honore

Related Articles

Emma Straub was all set to spend May on tour promoting her new novel, All Adults Here. Instead, due to the global pandemic, the Brooklyn-based auth...
14 likes · 4 comments
“A sheen of tiny drops, all of them trapped in the glow of the stoplight and reflecting red onto my hands and face and neck. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful. There's no one around to see it, but maybe that's okay.” 2 likes
“I’m quick and smooth—like scribbling with a brand-new roller-ball pen. Like Angela’s hands across the piano. Like Victoria in the Gershwin show, making effortless leaps across the stage and falling into a pirouette. There’s a move in modern dance called the downward spiral—Vic is always trying to perfect hers. Maybe this is my downward spiral, careening yet controlled. When art is like this, when the work is so hard and so easy at the same time, I feel like I’m breaking all the rules of the universe. It’s thrilling. It’s terrifying. I may as well be falling through the floor, down to the beach and the gulf, straight down to the water, all the while managing to bring this painting to life.” 0 likes
More quotes…