Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is a book about wanting to become small. It’s about creating a different pain so the real pain can be forgotten for a while and surviving the cards dealt to us by life.
17-year-old Charlie Davis is a cutter. She hurts herself on purpose because it’s the only way she’s been able to cope with living on the streets, her Dad and the guilt she has about her friend Ellis. But when she is forced into a situation where there seems no way out, Charlie cuts too deep and ends up in a centre for girls who self harm. There she learns coping mechanisms and for the first time meets other girls like her. Although the book starts out in the Centre, the bulk of it follows her journey after she’s made to leave and explores how hard changing direction can be.
I really connected with this book. It is gritty and realistic but still leaves you with a sense of hope. It provides insight into how a young life can become so derailed as well as the sheer effort needed change paths. Glasgow’s writing is engaging and the way the prose starts off choppy and somewhat erratic to reflect Charlie’s state of mind and then subtly changes is genius. The characters felt real and so did their situations but it is the deep insight into Charlie that makes this book special. Glasgow manages to tell Charlie’s story with truth and understanding. She doesn’t make excuses nor does she judge, she just lays it out in a way that allows the reader to empathise.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone aged 16+ with the caveat that it does not hold back in covering some really traumatic issues such as forced sex work, abuse, self-harm and drug use. Having said that, Girl in Pieces is not just another tale of teenage woe, but rather a raw story edged in hope.