MTYT: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

Mary L. Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, NM

In their fifth and final MTYT installment for April 2020, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Sal and Gabi Break the Universe written by Carlos Hernandez. The 400-page novel won the 2020 Pura Belpré Author Award.

MARY: During the reading of this novel, I kept thinking, “what a great book for middle schoolers!” Sal, the main character, is thoughtful and kind, clever and curious, playful and mischievous. Sal also seems very confident and calm considering he can bring forth people and objects from other universes.

And so, the story unfolds in book 1 of the Sal and Gabi series. Sal isn’t supposed to bring other people and objects through a hole into our universe, but sometimes he just can’t help himself. Like the time he brought forth a dead chicken to fend off a bully. Or the time he brought forth his Mami Muerta to console himself after her death. Sal thinks he’s the only person that can see the hole he creates in the universe until he meets Gabi. Spunky, smart and outgoing, Gabi can see the hole in the universe and wants Sal to teach her how he does it. But Sal knows that creating a hole is dangerous. And like all good YA novels, Sal tosses aside his better judgment and teaches Gabi how to manipulate the universe. All this universal manipulation results in one great novel by Carlos Hernandez! What was your take on Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Violet?

VIOLET: You captured the heart of this novel so well, Mary. Almost every chapter had at least one scene that made me chuckle in addition to other moments that found me full out, laughing out loud! That is a lot of laughing when you consider this novel has over 40 chapters. It is perfect for middle-schoolers! Sal and Gabi hold so many qualities that readers of this age can relate to, learn about, and also learn from. I see Gabi as a fighter for social justice and equity. She is strong leader and her quick wit makes her a force to be reckoned with. Sal is carrying a lot on his shoulders, such as learning to manage his Type-1 diabetes, dealing with the untimely death of his mother, and having to uproot to a new city, new school, and make new friends. Despite these challenges, his resiliency and optimism are unwavering. Adding to the charm and authenticity of this story was the use of Spanish that was interspersed throughout, very much a translanguaging experience. There were smooth, seamless transitions where the meaning of the story was never lost. Such an entertaining and spirited book!

MARY: Our takes have a common thread, Violet. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe was entertaining, and we predict all readers will enjoy the escapades of Sal and Gabi! I’m looking forward to reading more about Sal and Gabi in the second book in the series, Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe, which will be released in a few days, on May 5, 2020. We invite WOW readers to experience for themselves the adventures of Sal and Gabi in Carlos Hernandez’s new series and then share their take on WOW’s My Take Your Take.

Title: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
Author: Carlos Hernandez
ISBN: 9781368022828
Publisher: Disney Press
PubDate: March 5, 2019

Kirkus Best Books – 2019
Publishers Weekly Best Books – 2019
CPL Best Books – 2019
2020 Pura Belpré Author Award Winner
2020 Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book Finalist

Throughout April 2020, Mary and Violet give their take on books that have won awards or honors this year. Check back each Wednesday to follow the conversation!

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