Kathleen Glasgow’s novel, Girl in Pieces, is raw in the way it reveals an unfiltered range of thoughts. It’s as if all the worries readers have never dared to voice aloud, have come to life on the pages beneath our fingers and suddenly, we are forced to face the reality of our fears.
Glasgow reminds us of the value that comes from determination. She takes a story that is not often seen, and reveals it to the world boldly, and unashamed. This bravery has created representation for millions of people around the world - voices that deserve to be heard.
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As the story starts, readers meet Charlie Davis, a seventeen-year-old girl who spreads herself through too many people, most of whom fail to return the love she deserves. Overwhelmed by the bitter kiss of her cold reality, Charlie fights the persistent urge to feed into the self-destructive tendencies she has come to call home. She’s struggling to fall away from familiar habits while doing her best not to fall apart which, from her vantage point, makes the odds of success seem almost laughable. I’m sure this is something every one of us has felt at some point.
Like you, Charlie has hopes and dreams she’s still trying to understand. She may not know how to achieve them, but she wants to find a way. As for right now, her main goal is to stay inside.
Lost and committed to staying alive, Charlie uses her words to lure readers into a world shaped by fear, anxiety, and gut wrenching lessons on love. Her story forces readers to face obvious truths which, for some, can be easily ignored. Ultimately, by sharing her experiences, Charlie teaches readers to embrace the truth even when reality is a tough pill to swallow.
At the beginning of Girl in Pieces, Charlie recalls what she saw on the night she was saved. This night marks the start of her second-chance life, and I love her final thoughts before she is rescued from the world:
Looking at the star-scattered sky, she compares it to the image of a salt shaker which has fallen, spilling speckles of white across a dark tablecloth. She writes about this moment in which the night sky mattered, from the faraway sprinkling of stars to “their accidental beauty” in the world.
Accidental beauty. What is it about those words that hits home? It’s almost too obvious a reminder that we often overlook the greatest things in life, searching instead for some fixed idea of “beautiful”. Whether or not this is her intention, Kathleen Glasgow sprinkles beauty into each of her characters’ lives, illuminating the little things that no matter the character’s past, makes their present existence worthwhile.
Not everyone will be the right one for you. This is a lesson I have yet to embrace. I mean, I know that not everyone will like me. I think we all realize this truth. However, there’s a difference between acknowledging something and embracing it. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved - at least I do.
It took experiencing rejection through Charlie’s eyes, for me to grasp its reality. Seeing how it plays out, when you deny yourself an honest view, sobered me to my own expectations and unfair thoughts. When you expect too much of someone who may not love you the way you want them to, and when you overvalue a relationship to compensate for this lack, you only succeed in causing pain on both sides.
In truth, nobody owes you anything. It sounds harsh, but it is true. Even those who love you, are not obligated to provide the kind of love you feel you need (consider platonic versus romantic love). Which is why it is so unfair to expect someone to conform to your idea of the person you want them to be. That’s not how life works. If you truly value a person’s presence in your life, you have to accept them as they are. Sometimes they’ll let you down and sometimes they won’t stick around, but that’s okay. Let it go, because there’s too much waiting in the world for you to hold onto a wish-filled fantasy.
Ultimately, learning to gracefully handle rejection makes life a hell of a lot easier in the long run.
Sometimes, it can be a real struggle to be present - to ground yourself when you’re desperate to drift away. I have found that some of the best moments in life are those that remind me, you exist. Times that anchor me in the moment and make me feel real, are the ones I treasure most. Probably because they help me recall the value of being present. Better yet, they give me a taste of how that feels. To take a line from Girl in Pieces: no matter how heavy the world gets, you can't let yourself float away. There is beauty in your ability to exist.
To take a page from an incredibly determined Charlie, savor the meaningful moments; do not let the moment choose who you are. Instead, do your best to fight the weight of the world until you can surely say, "The cereal is not eating me." Choose your next momentous, and make it angelic as fuck. Because at the end of the day, you shouldn't have to be sorry.
These are only three of the lessons I discovered throughout the book. While reading, I found the lessons Charlie shares with us just as important as her story itself. Each chapter of Girl in Pieces serves a reminder to live unapologetically, to find the beauty in everyday things, and to search for a way to stay alive.
Takeaways from Girl in Pieces
Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow, is a powerful story in more ways that one. It isn’t a light or casual read, but it is worthwhile. I would recommend anyone who loves reading gut wrenching novels to give this one a look. If you’re used to stories with happy endings where the princess falls for the frog, this may not be the best book for you. Read it anyway. I’m tempted to read it again, which says a lot about the magic that exists in Glasgow’s words.
Grab your own copy of Girl in Pieces and gain a new view on life and love.