"Why is every mom's concern about sex? There are more important things in life, like school, careers, poetry, books, ice cream, or learning how to make the perfect chocolate cake. It's so damn frustrating."
The only introduction I had to Gabi was Jenny's review a few months ago where she sang praises of this book. Even though I didn't remember the specifics of her review, I picked this book up at my library because I remember her raving about it. Plus, it is written as a journal. (You can never go wrong with journals.) The cover and the fact that it was a paperback and not the typical hardcover you see in a library were the first things that caught my eye.
Gabi starts off splendidly. If there's one thing I like, it's reading a book written in the vernacular. And there's plenty of that in here. No, you won't have to keep visiting Google Translate but then if you already know Spanish (I don't), you could probably converse with the characters.
Gabi thinks she's fat. It doesn't help that her mom is constantly asking her to lose weight nor does it help that Gabi loves to eat food and keeps a stash of unhealthy delicacies in her drawers. Her best friend Cindy is pregnant, her other best friend Sebastian came out to his parents and got kicked out of his house, her father is a drug addict and rarely present in her life, and she doesn't think the guy she is interested in will ask her out. But Gabi isn't one to cower down just because life is tough. She knows what tough is, she was born into it.
The whole book is Gabi's diary in her senior year. I find that journal-based YA books work very well for reluctant YA readers like me. They have none of the sappy language that makes me suffer from eyerollitis. They are also more personal and engaging than prose books (this is a general advantage of epistolary books). So when Gabi feels sad, I feel sad along with her and when she's being strong and positive, I feel the same way.
That doesn't mean I didn't find any YA-ish things to complain about. It bothered me that for a girl who didn't think guys would ever be into her, suddenly she had plenty of prospects, all timed very well too. But this is me being nitpicky.
Through this book, there are several poems which Gabi writes for school or for fun or simply to process her thoughts. She also posted a zine about the female body and as someone who loves goodies and variety in books, I thought it was a fabulous touch.
I will mention that if you love Mexican food, better read the book after lunch / dinner otherwise be prepared to be inexplicably hungry. Gabi's descriptions of food can start a party in your mouth. It will also make you crave tacos and gorditas like you have not had them lately.
What is your favorite Hispanic book?
I borrowed this book from the good old library.