“Your job here is you. We are all here to get better aren’t we? Which means: we are all presently shit. But we knew that already.”
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 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.
Girl in Pieces was the November “Bookstagram Supports Mental Health Book Club” pick run by myself over on instagram (theanxiousbookworm_).
There are so many raw emotions in this book. Please note that whilst Girl in Pieces is a worthwhile read it will not be an easy one and people may be triggered by topics such as mental illness, chronic illness, suicide or alcohol/drug addiction. Each and every one of these topics are dealt with so delicately and carefully whilst also ensuring that the subject issues are portrayed in a real life way and not flowered up to make the reader feel comfortable. These are not comfortable topics for those that are or have experienced them and therefore should not be made out to be in a fiction book.
The writing style of this book was something that was discussed greatly in my monthly book group. We loved the idea of it being very short and sweet chapters that got to the point. It almost seemed like a diary entry from he main character. It is a unique writing style that not many of us had seen before but something we would welcome in future books. It really added to the atmosphere that we believe the author was trying to create. I feel that Kathleen Glasgow was trying to keep the readers attention throughout, I know myself that during long chapters I tend to lose interest and find my mind wandering. The short chapters in this book were so engaging and impactive.
Let’s discuss the concept of mental health hospitals/institutions. This was a prevalent subject within this book and something that we discussed at great length. The hospital itself was very eye opening in relation to the staff members that are within it. It goes without saying that the people within these organisations are very vulnerable and rely on thise working there to keep them safe and look after them. If you are reading this review having already read the book I think you will understand that I am talking about Barbero. His character made me so angry but it also made me think. It is naive to even consider the fact that there are not abusive members of staff in the care system, whilst I know 99% of people that work in this setting are wonderful that 1% potential is so scary and horrible to think that people who have already been through enough will have to endure this kind of behaviour. Whilst it was difficult to read I think Kathleen Glasgow really tackled this subject greatly and I think it was an important matter to be discussed. That then leads onto when people leave the institute. Charlie was just left to her own devices, it was almost assumed that she was now okay and she did not need their help. Charlie admitted herself she didn’t know how to live on the outside, she couldn’t remember how to keep herself safe and went on to put herself into some dangerous situations. After discussing this in the group, a lot of us who has experienced the mental health system in many different countries have experienced this kind of behaviour and it is awful. There is talk of a revolving door in these kind of organisations, the same people leave and enter the system over and over again. Of course they do, especially with the little help many receive.
Another thing discussed was Charlie’s relationship with Riley. I am the first to admit that this was a toxic pairing from the start, however I couldn’t help but love it. I started to really care about Charlie as a character I wanted the best for her but I also loved Riley, he isn’t any good for her, but it could work right? At first you can see that his behaviour is making Charlie spiral, old habits die hard? However as the time goes on you can see Charlie develop as a character and realise this is not something she wants to be involved in anymore, she sees that this is what her life could be like if she let herself become out of control again. Whilst the relationship has its negatives I think Charlie has a lot to thank the relationship for as I think it helped her in her quest for recovery.
Overall, the group thought that whilst a difficult read this book had a great mental health representation. The only criticism that really came out of the chat was that maybe the book could have come with some obvious trigger warnings. This may not be for some people at this time, and we think that prior warning should be made. I definitely recommend that if you have read the trigger warnings in this post and you think you can deal with them appropriately then you should read this book. It will most certainly open your eyes to a world you may not fully understand. It certainly did me.