10 Incredible And Heartbreaking Books Like Girl In Pieces

Charlie Davis has a life that seems to be falling to pieces, and she’s breaking apart with it. When she’s kicked out of a special treatment facility because her insurance has run out, she decides it’s time to start piecing herself back together.

10 Incredible And Heartbreaking Books Like Girl In Pieces

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is an emotionally tough look at mental health recovery.

Following Charlie, as she tries to pull herself back from the edge, the book is moving and realistic, introducing tough conversations to an audience of young adult readers.

The debut novel by Kathleen Glasgow, A Girl in Pieces is a New York Times bestseller that found an even bigger audience when it became a TikTok favorite.

If you enjoyed reading Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow and you’re looking for more emotionally driven fiction novels, you will love adding books such as The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Hold Still by Nina LaCour to your bookshelf.

Themes In Girl In Pieces

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow can be a tough read, but it’s also a beautiful one. Here are some of the major themes from the book.

Mental Health

Charlie is a young woman in a world that feels increasingly hostile. A series of traumatic events has left her deeply scarred, and now she copes by taking her inner pain and making it physical.

Charlie’s ongoing journey with her mental health is a key theme in Girl in Pieces. Kicked out of a treatment center after her insurance ran out, Charlie must balance her real-world obligations with caring for her mental health.


Although Girl in Pieces is a moving and often tragic story of a young woman trying to put herself back together, it’s also a story of hope.

Charlie is determined to move past her struggles, no matter how difficult that journey may be. At times, the book can be both triumphant and uplifting.


Throughout Girl in Pieces, Charlie’s life intersects with new characters. They don’t all have her best interests at heart, but many of them help Charlie move forward, offering her opportunities and support at various points.

Girl in Pieces emphasizes both the importance of community as well as the necessity of looking inward for support and strength.

Coming Of Age

Girl in Pieces isn’t your traditional coming-of-age story, but it’s still a book charting a girl’s journey into womanhood. For many people struggling with trauma and mental health issues, Girl in Pieces offers an all too relatable insight.

Books Like Girl In Pieces

If you loved Girl in Pieces, these books should be next on your to-read list.

The Way I Used To Be By Amber Smith

The Way I Used to Be

Eden has always been comfortable and happy in her skin. But then one night everything changes. Her brother’s best friend forces himself on her, and in the aftermath, Eden finds her relationship with herself has been destroyed.

A four-part story, The Way I Used To Be follows Eden as she moves through high school. Demonstrating how the effects of trauma can touch every part of life, The Way I Used To Be is a story of finding strength you didn’t know you had.


  • A realistic look at how trauma can affect a person.
  • There’s a lot of pain in Eden’s story, but this is also a book about survival.


  • The ending feels abrupt.

Themes: Trauma, recovery, self-acceptance.

Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson


When the cops bust a high school party after a tip-off from a student, everyone turns on Melinda. Her friends stop speaking to her, even complete strangers treat her like dirt. So, Melinda decides to stop speaking. It seems like the simplest solution.

But staying silent isn’t quite so easy. With no one else to talk to, Melinda is stuck having conversations with herself. There are some thoughts that Melinda is trying to keep buried that won’t stop fighting for attention. She can’t stay silent forever.


  • An original way to tackle a difficult subject.
  • The first-person point of view draws you in, and Melinda’s voice feels realistic.


  • The plot is intriguing, but it does move slowly.

Themes: Trauma, recovery, community.

Hold Still By Nina LaCour

Hold Still

After Ingrid took her own life, Caitlin has been left with a hole inside her. Losing Ingrid is like losing all the joy from the world, and everything she once loved seems dull and empty now that Caitlin doesn’t have her best friend to share it with.

Ingrid didn’t leave without saying goodbye. When Caitlin finds a journal of Ingrid’s last days, she has a chance to dive once more into the world of her closest friend. And as she travels through Ingrid’s pain, can she learn to see happiness in the world once again?


  • A moving portrayal of how loss can be felt so keenly.
  • The world of Hold Still is well-drawn.


  • Caitlin takes some time to develop as a character.

Themes: The effects of loss, finding hope, and mental health.

All The Bright Places By Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

Theodore Finch is looking for reasons to stay alive, while Violet Markey is counting the days until she can start living again.

A chance encounter on the ledge of a bell tower brings the two into each other’s orbit, and they soon become unlikely friends. But as their friendship begins to blossom, it brings with it fresh new challenges.

For two people already living life on the edge, can they find salvation in friendship? Does life ever offer such neat solutions?


  • For such a serious theme, there are moments of good humor.
  • Both Finch and Violet are compelling characters.


  • Some plot points are a little bit cliched.

Themes: Mental health, community, coming of age.

Every Last Word By Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word

From the outside, it looks as though everything in Samantha’s life is perfect. One of the “popular” girls, she has the protection of high social status in her junior class.

And Samantha is convinced she needs it, as the dark thoughts resulting from her Purely-Obsessional OCD frequently consume her mind.

When Sam meets Caroline, she finds that maybe she doesn’t need popularity to feel normal. But can she stop her secret anxieties from taking over her life?


  • An often misunderstood condition is treated with kindness and an open manner.
  • A fast pace that keeps you engaged with the story.


  • The first few chapters have a different tone from the rest of the book.

Themes: Mental health, community, self-acceptance.

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story By Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Craig has always been a high achiever and he has big plans for where life will take him. When he gets into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, it seems like step one in achieving his goals.

While Craig was once brilliant, at his new high school, he’s decidedly average. When things spiral out of control, he finds himself in a mental hospital with people who are nothing like his previous high-pressure acquaintances. Might there be more to life than career success?


  • The subject is heavy, but the book is packed full of light passages.
  • The quirky cast of characters adds levity and keeps the story moving.


  • Some of the plot points feel simplified.

Themes: Mental health, community, recovery.

How It Feels To Float By Helena Fox

How It Feels to Float

Biz makes her way through life as if she’s floating. She can maintain her facade of normality, hang out with her friends, talk to her family, and seem perfectly happy and fine.

Does it matter that she sees her dad everywhere, even though he died when she was seven? When an incident on the beach leaves Biz shaken, her dad suddenly disappears from her life.

She can’t find him anywhere, and the space where he was is like a gaping wound. With the help of her new friend Jaspar, Biz sets out to track her dad down.


  • The lyrical prose adds an elegant touch to a story, enhancing the fantastical elements.
  • The well-written characters bring pace and movement.


  • The actual plot is minimal.

Themes: Mental health, recovery, coming of age.

They Both Die At The End By Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End (They Both Die at the End Series, 1)

When Death-Cast calls, you know your time on Earth is coming to an end. And that’s what happens to Mateo and Rufus. Given just one day left to live, they reach out to make a new — and final — friend, to enjoy what they have left of life.

The title of the novel is a spoiler, but one that still manages to catch you by surprise. Exploring exactly what it is that makes life worth living, even when you haven’t got much of it left to live, They Both Die at the End is poignant and profound.


  • You know exactly what’s coming, and it still manages to break your heart.
  • The fantastical world is well realized.


  • At times the perspective shifts are repetitive.

Themes: Community, mental health, finding joy.

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder By Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

It’s been five years since popular high schooler Andie Bell died, killed by her boyfriend Sal before he took his own life. At least, that’s the story that everyone knows. Pip, on the other hand, can’t quite believe it.

She knew Sal, and she knows he could never kill. When Pip starts investigating, it seems like there’s more to the story than anyone realized. But some secrets have been buried deep, and people will do anything to stop them from getting out.


  • The plot twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.
  • Pip is an appealing lead.


  • The similar setting and character struggles are good if you want a suspenseful read similar to Girl in Pieces, but it lacks the emotional punch.

Themes: Trauma, perception, community.

Whispers And The Roars By K Webster

Whispers and the Roars

A dark romance where things are never quite as they seem, the Whispers and the Roars is a book best read with little advanced knowledge. You want to go into this book with no idea what’s coming next, so you can let the unexpected events wash over you.

With that said, the book does tackle some very difficult themes. Aimed more at adult readers than young adults, while it’s best to remain spoiler free, it’s important to note that parts of the book can be triggering.


  • Packs a real emotional punch.
  • The twisting plot pushes your imagination.


  • The major twist is divisive.

Themes: Romance, support, mental health.

Final Thoughts

Girl in Pieces is an emotionally devastating read, but it’s also one that is full of hope. When you get to the end, you might need a little bit of time to pick your emotions up off the floor.

But when you’ve finished with that, you’ll be looking for a book that provides the same cathartic experience. Girl in Pieces is a book about mental health and trauma, as well as hope and inner strength.

Charlie is someone who keeps moving forward, determined to find a safe space in the world.

If you want a book with a similar story of trauma and recovery, try Hold Still by Nina LaCour, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, or How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox.

If you loved Girl in Pieces for the frank look at mental health, then The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith makes an excellent follow-up.

Otherwise, consider Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, or Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Girl In Pieces A Good Book?

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is a tough read, but an uplifting one. Charlie’s journey is difficult but relatable, and the story balances sadness with humor.

What Are The Trigger Warnings For Girl In Pieces?

There are several topics in Girl in Pieces that can be considered triggering. Be aware that the book deals with abuse, self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, and homelessness.

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Noah Burton