“Girl in Pieces,” by Kathleen Glasgow
Publication: Delacorte Press; August 30, 2016
Synopsis: Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do 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.
A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.
Let me begin by saying that I honestly did not want to read and review this book. It was available for review but sounded depressing as hell… However, whether during my 13 years of teaching or from people I know personally in my life, the fact remains that self-mutilation or “cutting” is a prominent issue with girls and women and doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Statistics vary regarding this problem, especially since it is such a hidden issue, but the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of girls and young women are cutting themselves each year. In addition to how scary this issue is, what is worse is how helpless parents, caretakers, siblings, family, and friends may feel. This is not an issue that can just be “fixed” and regardless your approach as a parent if you discover that your child has been cutting themselves, chances are whatever you do is futile. Therefore, this is why I decided to read and review this book.
“Girl in Pieces” is the story of Charlie Davis starting with her being found cold and with pneumonia outside of a hospital, as well as, badly wounded from self-inflicted cuts. Charlie is admitted to a psychiatric program addressing self-mutilation and although she begins with selective mutism, she starts to come out of her shell – that is, until there is no more money or insurance to cover her stay. After discovering that her mother will no longer allow her to come home, Charlie sets off for Arizona to stay with a friend, Mikey, whom she grew up with. After arriving in Arizona, Charlie looks for a job, finds a place to live and tries to make friends, as well as, a new life. Some of the people she meets are horrible for her and her recovery, while others prove to be there for her for no other reason except they felt it was the right thing to do.
So, when I heard about this book and decided to read and review it, I thought it was going to be some sort of inspirational novel about a young girl coming to terms with her traumatic past and upbringing and recovering from her history of self-mutilation. I was very wrong. Yes, Charlie develops a support network and through her artwork and drawing, she discovers a new outlet for her pain. Draw it instead of cut. Plan it out with colors, decide what you want to say, create – anything other than cutting. Honestly, Charlie was in a much better place at the end of the novel versus the beginning, but still, I didn’t feel “convinced” that anything was any better for her. As I read through this novel I saw replacing old bad habits with new bad habits, which broke my heart. Not taking away from the seriousness of this issue, I then started thinking about the age-old philosophy about gaining weight when you quit smoking and reflected on the frequency of developing new “bad” habits when replacing old ones.
I have nothing but respect and admiration for Kathleen Glasgow and her honest depiction of a young girl trying to find herself and a new life after resorting to self-mutilation for such a long time. This is absolutely not a “feel-good” book but I think it was absolutely worth writing and I wish that anyone in the medical or psychological field, as well as, every parent, teacher, guidance counselor, and so on would read this. At the end of this novel, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Charlie, but I still cried my eyes out for I don’t even know how long. Self-mutilation with our adolescents and young adults needs to be addressed and more research needs to be done to help them find their way back to hope, health, and happiness.
Learn more about Kathleen Glasgow by visiting her web page.
Purchase “Girl in Pieces” on Amazon.
*Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.