Melanie Page's Reviews > Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
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did not like it
bookshelves: fat-characters, sjcpl, audiobooks, dnf

Somehow, this young adult novel made its way on my radar, largely because the protagonist is fat. Would it meet my criteria for a fat-positive book?

Gabi is a teen who has loads of issues that keep her from being relatively normal -- although it's possible that she really is just living a regular American teen life? Her best friend got pregnant the first time she had sex. Her other friend came out as gay, and his family disowned him. Although her parents are still married, her father suffers from meth addiction and alcoholism and disappears for weeks at a time. Then, Gabi's fifteen-year-old brother gets caught tagging with his friends. And she's fat. All of these situations -- teen pregnancy, LGBTQ teens being rejected, addiction, and vandalism -- are all common problems for teenagers. Being fat shouldn't be a "problem," except that Gabi leans toward disordered eating. That is, rather than eating food because she's hungry or wants to enjoy the taste, she eats her feelings. The plot felt predictable, and I'm always dismayed by yet another YA novel in first-person point of view. (If you're interested, I wrote a post about why YA frequently lets me down).

Voice narrator Kyla Garcia reads clearly and puts emotion into her delivery. Perhaps her emotion is misplaced, though. When she reads the word fat, it sounds like "FAT" -- just so much emphasize that it comes across like many four-letter curse words. Did the author intend "fat" to sound evil, or had she used it objectively? At 50% Garcia said "FAT girl" just one too many times, and I immediately turned the audiobook off.

In Gabi, A Girl in Pieces fat is shameful, fat is bad. Gabi's friends tell her "you're not fat!" which is an insult that means fat is so bad even her friends refuse to actually see this girl. When Gabi gets her first boyfriend (that horrid "will you be my girlfriend" and they never go on a date scenario rankles me, but I know that's how the kids do it), she decides maybe she's not "that fat." These are all dangerous messages that reinforce fatphobia and stereotyping.

Like I said, I chose to DNF this book, so I can't recommend it. However, I can appreciate that many Latinx readers felt seen by this novel, so please check Goodreads before you make your decision. I would recommend the review of the wonderful, perceptive Latinx blogger Alicia @ Kernels of Nonsense, which you can find here.

If you want a strong YA novel by a Mexican-American queer author, please check out Fat Angie and Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution.

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Reading Progress

May 22, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
May 22, 2018 – Shelved
May 22, 2018 – Shelved as: fat-characters
May 22, 2018 – Shelved as: sjcpl
August 9, 2019 – Shelved as: audiobooks
November 30, 2019 – Started Reading
Finished Reading
December 2, 2019 –
December 5, 2019 –
December 5, 2019 – Shelved as: dnf

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