Gaia Bawden is the sixteen year old daughter of social worker, Kay Bawden. She was made to leave her home in Hackney due to her mother's pursuit of the less-than-keen Pagfordian, Gavin Hughes, who Gaia knew, did not reciprocate her mother's feelings.
Gaia seemed to show a certain disdain for the homogenous Westcountry town of Pagford, which was a world away from her seemingly vibrant life in London with her many friends and boyfriend. Upon her arrival Winterdown Comprehensive in the neighbouring city of Yarvil, she made a big impression on many of the male students and befriended the introverted Sikh girl, Sukhvinder Jawanda.
Gaia is described to be very striking, with copper brown hair, a straight nose and symmetrical facial profile; she attracted the attention of fellow pupils and Pagfordians alike. Andrew Price particularly developed a crush on Gaia, which unbeknown to him, she was well aware of. Sukhvinder was initially surprised at Gaia's interest in her, believing her to be much too pretty and "cool" to be her friend.
Gaia appears to be well-adjusted in comparison to the other teenagers of the book. She demonstrates a strong sense of loyalty to Sukhvinder, giving her the nickname “Sooks” and standing up for her over Stuart Wall’s cyber-bullying. She is vocal about her feelings over her mother’s decision to leave Hackney and has a rocky relationship with her owing to it. She is also to be portrayed as popular, particularly in London, her world being perceived by others in Pagford as glamorous with an air of mystery. Towards the end of the book she invites Andrew Price to hang out with her one day in Reading, because the Price family were due to relocate there, and she often visits her father resides there, showing an amiable side to her.