Isabel Quintero is the author behind the now relatively well-known Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. If you haven’t heard of it yet, just check out some of the award lists from the School Library Journal, the Tomás Rivera Book Award, YALSA, Booklist Best Books, and the Américas Award, among others.
Despite being a new author to the publishing world writ large, Quintero is not new to the field of writing. As she describes on her blog, she has been dedicated to writing poetry and fiction throughout her life. Writing is, in her words, “not a luxury. It is a necessity for my being, for my happiness. It makes me whole.” Not surprisingly, this fascination and dedication to the writing process seems to have permeated Quintero’s professional life. Cinco Puntos Press explains in her biography that she is
“an elementary school library technician and loves sharing her passion for the written word with students. She also teaches community college part time and works as a freelance writer for the Arts Connection of San Bernardino. Quintero works as events coordinator for Orange Monkey Publishing and assistant editor for Tin Cannon, a literary journal.” Certainly a literary theme seems to run throughout her various roles in life. Quintero has openly stated that Gabi is a culmination of many elements of her childhood – from the bilingual and cross-cultural influences she derived from growing up in a Mexican-American family, to her experiences as a young woman grappling with gender roles, sexuality, and body image.
According to Cinco Puntos Press, Quintero elaborates on how her background contributed to writing the story of Gabi. “I wrote this book because some of it is my story. In a lot of ways Gabi and I share the same issues; we both had (have) body image problems, a bicultural experience, a natural distaste for imposed gender roles, and confusion about sex and its role in our life. As I grew older, I realized I wasn’t alone, and that the women who had had similar experiences, also felt alone throughout their teenage years.” That universality and willingness to speak truthfully about these issues are two of the reasons why Gabi has sparked such a response among its readers.
By the way, here are a few links that help illustrate the stir that she has created in the young adult literature world:
- School Library Journal’s “Constructing a Life | A Conversation with Isabel Quintero”
- YALSA’s 2015 Morris Award: An Interview with Finalist Isabel Quintero
- Stephanie Kuehn’s “Morris Award Finalist Interview: Isabel Quintero, Author of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces”
- Listen to Isabel Quintero reveal the story behind Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, courtesy of TeachingBooks.net.
- See what sort of music Quintero hears when picturing Gabi through a playlist that she created for the music blog largehearted boy.
Quintero has begun her professional writing career with an amazing and, dare we say, groundbreaking protagonist. I speak on behalf of everyone at Vamos a Leer when I say that we can’t wait to see where she takes us from here.
p.s. To build on Quintero’s conversation with largehearted boy, we went ahead and used SoundCloud to build the Gabi playlist.
p.p.s. Just announced today by Cinco Puntos Press: “Congratulations (again) to ISABEL QUINTERO and her wonderful creation, GABI, A GIRL IN PIECES. Together, hand in hand, they are a finalist for the prestigious 25th PEN CENTER USA ANNUAL LITERARY AWARDS Young Adult Fiction. Gabi rocks, Isabel rocks, together they rock and roll. Old school life as it is.” We couldn’t agree more!
Image: Photograph of author Isabel Quintero. Reprinted from Quintero’s website.