Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’
Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, because it’s almost impossible to strike the balance right: no matter how hard you try to help, you may end up hurting someone.
That’s why I think it’s impressive that Girl in Pieces has such a straight-talking, no-holds-barred protagonist. Charlotte Davis openly and honestly discusses not only her own personal brand of self-destruction, but also divulges the methods used by the other patients in the Creeley Centre. I’ve read books about self-harm in the past that have been filled with allusions, which always seemed false to me: in my personal experience, people who self-harm are often the ones most able to talk about it frankly, refusing to shy away from the truth of what they’ve done or why. It’s a relief to finally see that represented on the page.
Even without reading the author’s note at the end, it’s obvious that Kathleen Glasgow is telling this story from the heart. The short, diary-esque chapters bring Charlie’s character to life, slowly revealing her history and the reasons for her self-harm. Although she’s irrational and obtuse at times, you can’t resist rooting for her throughout the story. I found myself mentally cheering her along as she left Creeley and began adjusting to life on her own, valiantly battling the constant temptation to relapse.
However, self-harm isn’t the only story here. Charlie moves to Arizona to live near her friend Mikey, believing that he wants her to move closer to him so that they can be together, but it isn’t until she arrives that she learns he’s in a long-term relationship. She finds a job at a local diner and throws herself into it, finding herself falling for disgraced rock star Riley West.
Riley has his own issues, and Charlie finds herself learning that love isn’t the great healer she expected it to be. It’s always annoyed me that there’s a tendency in YA to make a character’s problems disappear as soon as they are in a relationship, so I was glad that Riley and Charlie didn’t fix each other immediately (although I’m not going to share whether they fix each other by the end of the book – you’ll just have to read it to find out for yourself).
If you’re a fan of YA that doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, I’d highly recommend Girl in Pieces. If you find yourself easily triggered by discussion of self-harm, I’d suggest waiting to pick this up until you’re feeling a bit more stable: if I’d read this book when I was in a bad place, I’m not sure if it would have done more harm than good.
Look after yourself, first and foremost, and remember I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.