Girl in pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9781460751053
(Age: 15+) Recommended for mature readers. Charlie is really messed up. But so is everyone at Creeley, the health facility for girls who self-harm. Part One of Girl in Pieces chronicles their despair fuelled by anxiety or abuse of one kind or another. Charlotte (Charlie) is dealing with loss of her father in childhood and more recently, her best friend.
In Part Two, Charlie is thrust back into the tenuous reality of the outside world. She is not ready but both she and her counsellor, Casper, have prepared some strategies to avoid self-harm. Mickey, her childhood sweetheart, reaches out to her with a bus ticket and a new start interstate. Inevitably, Charlie's attraction to Riley, a musician and addict working with her in a coffee shop, can only lead to one thing.
The author, who has a history of self-harm, takes us on a journey of gradual understanding. Glasgow's insights into the thoughts of those who self-harm are palpable and full of wisdom. We come to know Charlie's own triggers for cutting and the horrific physiological consequences of cyclical self-loathing. The use of flashbacks confirm that she blames herself for attracting catastrophe.
Life keeps disappointing Charlie but in Part Three, the inclusion of her sketches in a local art show gives us hope that she can ultimately find peace in a world in which she has never felt welcome. The abiding message of this confronting First Person tome, is that you are not alone. You can choose self-annihilation of one kind or another and there'll be no shortage of company - or you can keep trying. Girl in Pieces provides insightful explanations for addiction of any kind, but the sub-text is the importance of mentors, artfully achieved from very well fleshed out and equally flawed but resilient characters.