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Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2017
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 10h 43m
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2016
4.5★ Audiobook⎮Girl in Pieces was a heavy and powerful story. I wasn’t expecting the emotional breadth and gravity of this piece. At times it was hard to hear, but the discomfort only made me realize how much I needed to hear this story.
Girl in Pieces features a main character with self-harming tendencies. In the author’s note, Kathleen Glasgow reveals that much of the story comes from her own experience with self-harm. Throughout the story, she emphasized the importance of connecting with others facing similar issues and that’s why I am so glad Girl in Pieces exists.
It was incredibly courageous of Kathleen to tell Charlotte’s story. More than courageous, I think it was vital. Self-harm is something that isn’t often openly discussed, especially in the mainstream media. Although I haven’t dealt with these issues personally, I know that others have and do. For every novel fantasizing self-harm (i.e. Written in Red), there needs to be a Girl in Pieces to realistically portray its effects.
Glasgow told Charlotte’s story beautifully. From a fictional standpoint, all of the boxes were checked. I was emotionally invested in Charlotte as a protagonist and empathized with her from the start. Her narrative had the feel of a tragic and beautiful Shakespearean play. This aided in giving the story a sense of authenticity as life can be both tragic and beautiful. Glasgow’s writing struck a perfect balance. If the story had been more of one than the other (tragic or beautiful), I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Without giving anything away, I’ll say that the tone of the ending surprised me.
Glasgow’s writing was absolutely striking. Again, it was simultaneously beautiful and evocative, dealing one emotional blow after another. I was most impressed by the messages of hope and perseverance peppered throughout Charlotte’s despairing narrative. Such messages encouraged to me to continue on with the story when it became especially dark and further endeared me to Charlotte.
Obviously, the content in Girl in Pieces may not be suitable for everyone. It explicitly addresses several sensitive issues including suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Glasgow’s writing is meant to be evocative, but may be provocative to certain readers.
Narration review: Julia Whelan gave a stirring performance in Girl in Pieces. The story calls for constant raw emotion and Whelan delivered. Her narration met and matched Glasgow’s emotive writing. At times, I became so swept up in the whirlwind of emotion that I forgot I was listening to Whelan narrate an audiobook. She embodied all of Charlotte’s feelings and I could just sense how much of herself Whelan was putting into this performance. Athletic coaches often tell players to “leave it all on the court/field”, meaning give the game everything they have. That phrase comes to mind regarding Whelan’s performance because it truly seemed as if she put all of herself into Girl in Pieces and the results were magnificent to behold. ♣︎