We first meet Charlotte “Charlie” Davis as an uncommunicative and angry seventeen-year-old during a stay at a mental health facility after she has a self-destructive breakdown. When her medical insurance runs out, Charlie is discharged into the care of her estranged mother. When that arrangement immediately falls through, Charlie is put on a bus from Minnesota to Arizona where a friend is waiting for her. From there, Charlie struggles to put her life back together.
I finished this book yesterday and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. There’s absolutely no denying that this is a gritty, dismal and depressing book. Yet, that does not make this a bad book by any means.
The rational, analytical side of me wanted to pick apart some of the events that occur in this book. Yes, patients are cut loose from medical facilities all the time because of an inability to pay. But would any reputable facility not try to provide some sort of follow-up care for a minor child? That, to me, was a definite recipe for disaster right there. Knowing how disastrous mental health care is in this country, I was quickly willing to let this go, however.
Moving on to the characters – I flip-flopped when it came to Charlie. I connected with her and felt for her, but then I didn’t. Clearly, we’re dealing with a teenager who has not been guided in any way or given any sort of coping skills. Hence, the immediate need to get into a relationship. Most addicts understand that embarking on a relationship early on in recovery is almost certain doom. Yet, Charlie does this repeatedly. It was difficult for me to feel any empathy for her. She was a mess of a girl, who allowed practically everyone to walk all over her. And, her constant jealousy became tedious after a while. But as a former seventeen-year-old girl myself, I was willing to look past this. After all, her lack of coping and people skills were what caused her to self-harm in the first place.
I intensely disliked Riley’s character. A grown man in his late twenties, who was clearly a broken person, hell bent on breaking everyone around him – and this included a seventeen-year-old girl – isn’t exactly likable. To me he was despicable. I didn’t give a darn about what happened to him. There were a few likable supporting characters scattered throughout.
At times, I felt the dialogue could have been stronger and more powerful, but it just wasn’t there for me. The writing is good, not fantastic, but darn good. So definite points for that.
As mentioned in the book’s description and in other reviews, this book reminded me a lot of Girl Interrupted – which I thoroughly enjoyed. Strangely enough, it also reminded me of White Oleander. I felt both of these books were stronger and more compelling than Girl in Pieces.
I would like to say that the subject matter in this book can most certainly be triggers for anyone who suffers from addiction, self-mutilation and depression – so know this going in and be prepared. It’s not an uplifting, happy book. The ending was tidy and I found it unexpectedly hopeful. It took guts for the author to write about a subject that was so close to her. Kudos to her for that. Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for a complimentary copy of this book.
4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton