Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 08/01/2014 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 Tía 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 naiveté 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 - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 09/15/2014 *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. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.

Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2015 Seventeen-year-old Gabi Hernandez is having a drama-filled senior year. One of her best friends is pregnant by the school’s biggest player, while the other has been kicked out by his family for being gay. Her meth-addicted father has taken to living on the streets, and her mother is hassling Gabi about her virginity, her weight, and her tendency not to act Latino enough. Through it all, Gabi fights to define herself on her own terms, with a little bit of help from spicy snacks to keep her energy up. Using her personal journal and her emerging talent at poetry, she explores the bumpy ground between being a woman and being a good girl, between being herself and being a loyal daughter, between being in a relationship, being a friend, and being in love. While seemingly constructed from a checklist of adolescent problem-novel tropes, this novel in fact crafts a genuine, heartfelt portrait of its heroine’s emotional and intellectual life. Despite everything happening around her, Gabi’s own story is oddly almost plotless, a kind of normality (late alarm clocks, college applications, first boyfriends) that stands in contrast to the chaos around her. The narrative is therefore ultimately compelling, moving from one moment to the next, while Gabi reacts to events big and small and usually out of her control. It’s the voice here that really makes the novel work, as every Spanglish-inflected thought from the mundane to the insightful to the poetic is steeped in a sense of Gabi’s character; even the poetry is authentically teen and occasionally heart-rending. Readers looking for an alternative to action-packed genre fiction will appreciate this glimpse into one teen girl’s world and may just find a bit of themselves there. AM - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

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