Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Reading Quintero's debut is like attending a large family fiesta: it's overpopulated with people, noise, and emotion, but the overall effect is joyous. Presented as the diary of 17-year-old Mexican American Gabi, it covers a senior year ostensibly filled with travail, from a first kiss to first sex; from dealing with a meth-head father to a constantly shaming mother; from the pregnancies of two classmates to Gabi's own fear of becoming Hispanic Teen Mom #3,789,258. But that makes the book sound pedantic, and it's anything but. Unlike most diary-format novels, this truly feels like the product of a teenager used to dealing with a lot of life's b.s. Sure, she is depressed at times, but just as often she is giddy with excitement about her new boyfriend (and then the one after that), or shrugging at the weight she just doesn't feel like losing. If there is a structuring element, it's the confidence-building poems Gabi writes for composition class, which read just like the uncertain early work of a nonetheless talented fledgling writer. Quintero, on the other hand, is utterly confident, gifting us with a messy, complicated protagonist who isn't defined by ethnicity, class, weight, or lifestyle. Gabi is purely herself and that's what makes her universal.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2014 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Quintero's first novel quickly establishes a strong voice and Mexican-American cultural perspective through the journal of intelligent, self-deprecating, and funny Gabi. The 17-year-old is navigating considerable conflict both at home and in her social life: her father is addicted to meth, while Gabi's strict mother pressures her to conform to her own views of their heritage and values. Gabi, who seeks comfort through binge eating, wants to grow up on her own terms, and she explores her awakening romantic and sexual feelings by writing poetry. Quintero unsentimentally confronts a gay teenager's coming out, teen pregnancy, date rape, abortion, addiction, and other topics while sketching the contradictory pressures facing Gabi, who feels caught between two worlds ("Being Mexican-American is tough sometimes. Your allegiance is always questioned"). Gabi's letters to her father are particularly moving, and her narration is fresh, self-aware, and reflective. The intimate journal structure of the novel is especially revealing as Gabi gains confidence in her own integrity and complexity: "I guess there is more to this fat girl than even this fat girl ever knew." Ages 14-up. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez has a lot to deal with during her senior year. Her best friend Cindy is pregnant; her other best friend Sebastian just got kicked out of his house for coming out to his strict parents; her meth addict dad is trying to quit, again; and her super religious Tia Bertha is constantly putting a damper on Gabi's love life. In lyrical diary entries peppered with the burgeoning poet's writing, Spanglish, and phone conversations, Quintero gives voice to a complex, not always likable but totally believable teen who struggles to figure out her own place in the world. Believing she's not Mexican enough for her family and not white enough for Berkeley, Gabi still meets every challenge head-on with vulgar humor and raw honesty. In moments, the diary format may come across as clunky, but the choppy delivery feels purposeful. While the narrative is chock-full of issues, they never bog down the story, interwoven with the usual teen trials, from underwhelming first dates to an unabashed treatment of sex, religion, and family strife. The teen isn't all snark; there's still a naivete about whether her father will ever kick his addiction to meth, especially evident in her heartfelt letters to him. When tragedy strikes, readers will mourn with Gabi and connect with her fears about college acceptance and her first sexual experience. A refreshing take on slut- and fat-shaming, Quintero's work ranks with Meg Medina's Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick, 2013) and Junot Diaz's Drown (Riverhead, 1996) as a coming-of-age novel with Latino protagonists.-Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Struggles with body image, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, rape, coming out, first love and death are all experiences that touch Gabi's life in some way during her senior year, and she processes her raw and honest feelings in her journal as these events unfold. Gabi's family life is unbalanced. Her father is a drug addict who comes in and out of her life sporadically. Her mother tries desperately to keep her tethered to the values of her traditional Mexican heritage. Gabi's weight, her desire to go away to college and her blossoming sexuality are all at odds with what she feels are expected from her as a young Mexican-American woman. The teen is deeply bonded with her two best friends, Cindy and Sebastian, who each struggle themselves with the tension between sexuality and culture. Through poetry, Gabi finds her voice and develops the confidence to be true to herself. With this first novel, Quintero excels at presenting a life that is simultaneously messy and hopeful. Readers won't soon forget Gabi, a young woman coming into her own in the face of intense pressure from her family, culture and society to fit someone else's idea of what it means to be a "good" girl. A fresh, authentic and honest exploration of contemporary Latina identity. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.