Books: Girl in Pieces

Kathleen Glasgow’s beautiful debut novel starts in Saint Paul and ends in hope.

Girl in Pieces is the debut novel of Kathleen Glasgow, whose own 12-year residence in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul brings familiar locales to Twin Cities readers. The book’s main character, 17-year-old Charlie (Charlotte) Davis, is a cutter, engaging in a type of self-harm Glasgow defines, overall, as “the deliberate act of cutting, burning, poking or otherwise marring your skin as a way to cope with emotional turmoil.”

Glasgow shines in making Charlie’s self-injury comprehensible to the reader. Charlie’s compulsions are never romanticized but given her history of homelessness, abuse and neglect, they come as no surprise. An older character named Ariel, upon seeing Charlie’s scars, scolds “the girls today,” asking if there isn’t enough hurt in the world already.

“How are you going to live this hard life, Charlotte?” is what Ariel later asks, and Glasgow answers with many different examples of self-care—art, love and kindness. Available at local book stores and at