Saturday, October 14

The Most Authentic Portrayal of Mental Health in Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain 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.

Trigger warnings: self-harm, rape, abuse, addiction, drugs, alcohol

“Don't let the cereal eat you. It's only a fucking box of cereal, but it will eat you alive if you let it.”

With World Mental Health Day being a few days back and all, I decided it's high time I talked about a book that I read and loved- a book that deserves way more attention than its been getting. Kathleen Glasgow's Girl in Pieces is an own voices young adult debut about a girl prone to self-harm through cutting, Charlotte Davis, and her journey towards recovery and self-discovery. What makes this book stand out from most of the other books with mental health rep is definitely the fact that it's own voices. Do you even remember when you last read a book with mental health rep that was own voices? I honestly can't and I believe that's something very important that we've all been overlooking lately. 

“People should know about us. Girls who write their pain on their bodies."

The story starts off with Charlie at the mental, but quickly finds herself out in the world, left to fend for herself. How and why it comes down to it is a whole story in itself, but what I most appreciated in the beginning of the book was the setting itself. The portrayal of how things were at the mental hospital was done very well and seeing Charlie and the others there was slightly reminiscent of Girl, Interrupted, but in a whole different extreme altogether. Over the course of the story, Charlie travels to live wih a friend in Arizona and starts to build a new life for herself, but soon finds out that sometimes, the past just refuses to be left behind. This is the story of how Charlie comes to term with her past and learns to love herself- scars and all.

This is a very much character-driven plot, and Charlie was no doubt my most favorite. The author does a great job in putting forward the perspective of a teenager who has been through a lot, and I loved seeing her character grow. The story is bleak. It's sad, and raw, and real, and it is one that needs to be read. The author doesn't sugarcoat anything and at times it might feel hard to go on reading- but go on you will because of how powerful the book is. You'd empathize with Charlie no doubt, and see exactly why she does what she does- it's ugly, and it's portrayed just so.

“I just want to feel better. My own body is my deepest enemy. It wants, it wants, it wants and when it does not get, it cries and cries and I punish it. How can you live in fear of your own body?” 

The one thing that didn't quite work for me was the pacing and there were times when the book felt slightly repetitive. Things could have moved on faster, I felt, but in retrospect, I wonder if that's what made everything seem all the more real while reading? Whatever said, the format of the book worked wonders in making things seem realistic, and there was not one moment when I was not invested in the story. 

Mental health is something that needs to be addressed more in fiction, and it is books like this that make us realize that it's not enough for us to just be allies- we should make more efforts to try understand what exactly people go through, and this book is a good starting point. Self-harm is something that's very serious, and something that anybody could be going through, and the author does a brilliant job in addressing this issue. In conclusion I'd say, this was one absolutely, positively, fucking angelic book, and is a definite must-read.

“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.” 


  1. I really want to read this!! It looks really emotional and heavy, but i’m happy that you thought it was great representation. Great review, Ruzaika!

    1. Thank you! The fact that it was #ownvoices is possibly what I loved most about this one! It's not often that you read such books after all :))


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