‘Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.’
Girl in Pieces is such an important book it hurts. I felt it so deeply that it’s taken me a few days to get over my book hangover and be able to write a review because sometimes it was just too real. My heart is raw from reading this, and even though it was not an easy read, it is a very important one and I am so grateful to Kathleen Glasgow for writing it.
It tells the story of Charlie, a girl who has been abused, made homeless, and exposed to things no person – let alone a seventeen-year-old girl – should be exposed to. In order to cope with everything that has happened to her she cuts (deeply), as well as abusing drugs and alcohol, and has ended up in a psych ward after a particularly bad episode. Mental illness, abuse, self-harm – it can mean many things to many people, but whatever your experience is, you know it hurts both physically and emotionally and how difficult it can be to deal with. This is essentially the story of how Charlie has ended up where she is and how she begins to put the pieces of her life back together, although it often goes wrong.
I loved Charlie so much – so much has happened to her, and yet she tries so hard to keep moving forward, and that takes incredible strength and courage. She doesn’t always succeed; bad things happen, mistakes are made, people are terrible, but somehow she makes it to the next day, she manages to keep living, whether it’s through her own determination or through the kindness of others. She begins the novel with no real friends or family to speak of, but by the end she has a small but fiercely loyal group of friends to help her, and that can make all the difference when you’re struggling with your own mind.
One of the best things about Girl in Pieces, I think, is how real it felt to me. Some people may think it was too much sadness and hurt, but that’s the way the world is sometimes. Charlie has suffered, she’s been hurt, she hurts herself, and things often go wrong on her road to recovery, but I found that incredibly realistic. After everything she has been through she wasn’t going to magically feel better and be able to cope with life, and there were still going to be people who were terrible to know and be around, but it’s how you get through those tough times that matters most.
Having read this book and felt it right down to my bones, both joy and sorrow, I like to think that the end of Charlie’s story would be a good one, where she learns to cope with her demons and does something, to quote Ellis, angelic with her life. I think she would have.
Read: September 30th-October 2nd 2016