ARC Review: Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow | Hurt You Can't Look Away From

Title: Girl In Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Pages: 416 pages
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Source: Physical galley from a giveaway
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Rating: 5/5 stars
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. 

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** WARNING: This book talks about the following: sex, drugs, cutting, suicide, rape, loss, death. If you are sensitive to any of these topics, please refrain from reading this review **

Kathleen Glasgow's debut novel takes a dip into uncharted territory. Here the raw and ugly truth of mental health is exposed. Glasgow is not merciful and at times, I found myself cringing. There are things we just don't like to talk about. Suicide, cutting, death, loss and even rape. They're not very popular conversation starters, but I believe Ms. Glasgow's novel will be the one to strip all those barriers aside. 

Don't go into this story expecting it to be like every other YA mental health novel out there. For some stories, there are no happy endings, just resolutions. Charlotte Davis is seventeen at the beginning of the book, and she's already been through more hell than any normal teenager. Her mother has all but abandoned her, her father past away, she's been felt up by some pretty shitty people and her best friend has been sent far far away, to a place Charlie (short for Charlotte) can never reach her. So what does she do? She takes the thickest, longest shard of a glass bottle and drags it through her skin because the pain it causes couldn't possibly be worse than what she's feeling on the inside.
"I need release, I need to hurt myself more than the world can hurt me." 

- quoted from the ARC, Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
We find out later that there's a name for it. It's called NSSI. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury. It means that although she hurts herself, she has no desire to die.

You might be asking yourself: How the fuck does someone have the guts to hurt themselves? Going into this book, I thought I would never understand Charlotte's story. I always thought to myself, people have it worse. What gives you the right to hurt yourself when others are suffering more? Then 244 pages later, I'm gripped. I've fallen in love with Charlie. All of her- her scars and her past. Sure, her past was grim and the people in her life were real assholes, but the one feeling you gain from Charlie's story is not pity. I did not, through any part of reading this book, feel pity for her. I can't exactly place what I felt but I definitely didn't feel bad for her. I didn't constantly think, oh poor Charlie. Poor girl. Your life sucks and you need help. 

Glasgow's story is brutally honesty. The reason I loved Charlie's story so much was because it didn't dance around the fact that she was a cutter. Her scars don't just magically disappear, and she's not automatically accepted into society. Truth is (and the truth is shit), people are scared and they like to turn their backs on reality. This is clearly shown when Charlie is asked by her employer to wear long sleeve shirts to cover up her scars so she won't scare away the customers. Charlie cut herself, and now she has to live with the repercussions of her actions.

She doesn't give her characters a break. When you think things couldn't get any worse, they do. I liked that, I really did; that she wasn't letting Charlie take the easy way out. Charlie's more human than any main character I've ever read about. Her character was really well thought out from her flaws to just how much she realizes she's imperfect.

Even the side characters were amazingly amazing. The story starts off with Charlie in a psych ward and rehabilitation hospital. You meet a lot of the other patients and important friends and family from before she was admitted. They added so much to the protagonist's personality, and they ultimately help her grow.
"If a guy has scars, it's like some heroic shit show or something. But women? We're just creepy freaks." 
- quoted from uncorrected proof 
Girl In Pieces is no medical textbook on mental illness, but it does give insight on the topic. For those that weren't aware, self-harm/injury is not just limited to cutting. Self-harm is any harm a person does unto him/herself. Charlotte didn't just cut herself. In certain situations of extreme anxiety, she often pinched herself to keep from reacting.

Not to be cliche but this book spoke to my soul. Finally a book that's true to what I want to say. On my Twitter & Instagram, I post A LOT (and I mean a lot) about the semi-colon project and suicide prevention. Yeah, I know what you're going to say. Alex, why are you bringing up all this semi-colon stuff again. I have a reason trust me. Not too long ago, self-harm was just another way for me to relieve myself of stress. I scratched myself because there was a ball of fire inside of me, and I didn't want to let it out in front of other people. And for a while, I didn't feel the pain. It never hurt. I was almost numb to the feeling.

I always thought to myself, how fucked up am I that I don't feel the pain I'm causing myself? My life isn't shit. I don't have it as hard as others. What gives me the right to hurt myself when there's nothing wrong with my life? People assume it's for attention when they don't know one fucking thing about what's going on inside that person's head. Me and anxiety? We don't mix well. So if I was piled with tests from school and/or my parents wouldn't let me go out with my friends, I scratched myself to assure that if I could get through the pain, why couldn't I trudge through a few tests and live up to my parent's decision?

I'm not proud and even writing this makes me feel like shit. But this book, holy shit you guys. If this book isn't a mantra for people to stop hurting themselves, I don't know what is.
"Go be absolutely, positively, fucking angelic."

- quoted from uncorrected proof
Mark my words, Girl In Pieces is one of the most realistic portrayals of mental illness I've ever read. Charlie's story is incredibly horrifying and even with such a small support system, she managed to rid herself of the pain. Why can't we all do the same? Poignant and beautiful, you will be won over. Her story will be your story.

For more information on suicide prevention and self-harm, I recommend checking out The Butterfly Project and The Semicolon Project!

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  1. Thank you so much for this review and for sharing your story. I also have experience with self harm, and I totally felt the same way you did. I was a bit unsure about going into this book, but your review reassured me that it was going to be OK. I can't wait to read it!

    1. Oh you are so brave for speaking out on here! Thank yo so much for reading, and I know how we (as readers who've experienced what's being said in the book) are a bit apprehensive of reading about these personal experiences. I really hope you enjoy it when you read it and that it does justice to the issue at hand.

  2. I cried reading this review. I can relate to your personal story. It's sometimes scary how I am drawn to certain people before actually knowing them and then realizing that we're more alike and more "supposed to be" friends than anything else in the world. Thank you for spreading the word about The Butterfly Project and The Semicolon Project! Thank you for this review. Thank you for being beautiful inside and out. I am SO PUMPED about this book and can't wait until Sept 6th!!

    1. I'm going to cry from reading this comment. I am so blessed to have found so many people either suffering or in need of guidance from this community. It just makes me feel normal, or as normal as one can get in this situation. Hehe I'm waiting till my 18th birthday to get a tat of the semicolon on my wrist to remind myself every day that life is worth living.

  3. Added to my TBR. Honestly so important to have books like this around - and I'm glad it was written in such a well-written way, and that you resonated with it. Thank you for sharing your story, and reviewing this book, letting me know that there are good books that write about mental illness well.

    1. That's right! I've recently been getting into a lot of books that revolve around mental illness and have loved every single one of them. They are so raw and hard-hitting that it really changes you as a person. I can't wait for everyone to read this one, and I really do hope you enjoy it when it comes out!


    I literally just read your entire review from top to bottom, and I have to say that you worded things out brilliantly. Thank you so much for bringing this book into attention. Based on your review, I could already imagine the stuff that Charlie encountered, and it does make me feel for her character. I'm literally adding this to my TBR now!!!

    If anything, I love books on mental illness the most because I relate to them so much. I've had my own share of depressing days, and I absolutely love reading about it in YA because I want to know how others experience it and what parts of it could I relate to. I'm sad that this has rape and other sensitive issues, but really willing to give this a try because wow, it sounds so interesting!

    Jillian @ Jillian's Books

    1. Jillian, you're the sweetest! I tried my absolute best to put this book into words because it's just a masterpiece, and it can't be explained any other way. It's nice when you can relate to a character's struggles, and I'm really glad you got out of that rough patch in your life. I've literally had some of my own!

  5. ohmy, I need to read this book! I'm adding this to my TBR now. I've never really read anything that focuses on self-harm. Books usually focus on suicide so seeing something different and something that's possibly close to the weight of suicide is interesting. Can't wait for this now!!

    1. This is also my first book that physically dealt with self harm, and I think it sets the bar really high for other books that deal with mental illness and affliction. I'm glad it's made your list!

  6. This looks like a great read, sometimes its good when a book makes you uncomfortable, that lack of comfort helps us grown and learn new things, definitely on my TBR!! Great Review!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex


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