Book Review: The Sal and Gabi Series

Hey, everyone! Today I’m here to review a pair of books that I really should have reviewed sooner, given that I read them nearly a month ago at this point. I wasn’t originally going to review these, but I realized how fun and exciting they really are and how much I wanted to share them with my followers! Let’s get to it!

The Sal and Gabi Series | Carlos Hernandez

Published March 5, 2019 (book one)

382 pages | Hardcover

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of death of loved one (off page), references to child abuse, hospitalized baby.

Sal Vidón has not started at his new school under the best of circumstances. It’s the third time that he’s ended up in the Principal’s office in his first three days (though, the first two days were hardly his fault), but this time he’s facing Gabi Reál, who is determined to convince their Principal that Sal did put the dead chicken in Yasmany’s locker–even if no one saw him do it. Even if the chicken was gone when the janitor came to clean it up, and the blood that got on Yasmany’s shoe? Gone.

Not long after, Gabi stumbles on Sal’s most protected secret: Sal can conjure things much bigger than a dead chicken in someone’s locker. Things like his dead mother from an alternate universe. But as the pair gets to know each other better, their universe is being ripped apart by their manipulation of time and space.

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads.

I cannot tell you how enjoyable this series is. You would have to read it to understand the joy that this book is made of, all the jokes and friendship and adventure.
But this post is a review, so I’m going to at least give you a preview of everything this book offers. Keep in mind that the actual book? So much more.

One of the best things about these books is the friendship and the sense of community. While Sal and Gabi don’t start off on the best note, they quickly become amazing friends. The best part about it is that they are only friends, the author never tries to turn them into romantic partners, and it’s extremely clear that they are not going to, throughout the books. The adults in the books, especially Sal’s parents, suggest several times that Sal might have feelings for Gabi, but Sal quickly shoots them down. They’re friends. And, as Sal says, he is ‘not a sexual beast yet’. I was especially glad that it was acknowledged, even if it was quite quick, that Sal might be aromantic, because yes he is only twelve and this is a middle grade book, but despite what some people believe, alloromantic twelve year olds do, in fact, experience romantic attraction at that age. There are so many books in which a character hasn’t experienced romantic feelings until xxx comes along (mostly YA), or something like that, but it’s never mentioned that they might be somewhere on the aromantic spectrum and it was super refreshing to see it mentioned here. It wasn’t analyzed or discussed by anything, it was just a suggestion, a quick statement. It was also said very casually and no big deal was made about it, Gabi just said one sentence and that was it. I believe it was something like ‘if you were any more aro, I could shoot you from a bow’ and then they just moved on to the next topic.

I also mentioned the community in this book, and it really was AMAZING. Sal is surrounded by a lot of different communities and just the sense of belonging in these places, the familiarity among the people and how well most everyone got along, was so beautiful. I thought that his school was the best example of this. He attends a school focused on the arts, so there are a lot of times when very creative things are happening. The teachers are also very fun and get along well with the students which was cool! I think my favorite part centering around the school was in book two, when they are all putting on a performance. I won’t give you the specifics, but they end up doing it in an extremely unique way that first of all, sounds absolutely amazing, and second of all, required a lot of people to work together and it just felt like the whole school came together to help out and create something beautiful.

Sal was an extremely enjoyable character. At first, I was wondering if we’d get Gabi’s point of view as well, and I was a little sad when I realized that we wouldn’t, but it ended up being amazing anyways! The narration was really funny and I’m actually glad now that it was only from Sal’s POV because I feel like it would have been less entertaining if the voice switched every chapter or so. I also loved the author’s ability to describe characters, and give each one a very distinct personality. While Sal and Gabi were the only two main characters, there were many many side characters, some mentioned only once or twice, whereas some appeared continuously. A few were even our main characters but from another universe! And each one was very different and all amazing and entertaining in their own way.

The HUMOR. Once you read this book, you will not be able to get enough of the humor. Sal himself, as a magician, lives to make people laugh and this often gets the reader to laugh as well, but you will also find yourself laughing at his mishaps and the multiple amusing characters! I mean, his school’s logo is a rotten egg and there’s a giant statue of it on top of the school, complete with spewing smoke from a crack. There’s a talking toilet that can offer you life advice AND bleeps out any swear you come close to telling. The entire book is just extremely entertaining!

But the last thing that I wanted to hit on, is that despite the fact that the book is almost always very light and hilarious, it also touches real issues. Sal has diabetes and the books describe a lot about what that is like. There is also child abuse mentioned in the book, and It’s great how the author absolutely does not shy away from these things. There are a lot of middle grade books that are all light and fluffy, the only issues mentioned being those which assist the main plot of the book, and I think a lot of people are afraid that things like child abuse are ‘too heavy’ for people in the middle grade audience. Hernandez does none of this but also presents it in a more gentle manner than might be discussed in a YA book.

I would highly recommend the Sal and Gabi series to anyone looking for a fun book. Full of humor and brimming with creativity, this book is exactly what all middle grade books should be, and it’s fun for any age! My review absolutely does not do justice to this wonderful book and I encourage you to pick these books up to experience the full magic.

Have you read Sal and Gabi Break the Universe and its sequel? What did you think of it? If not, does this review make you want to pick it up? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by! Stay safe and keep on reading!

July Wrap Up

Approximately 99% of wrap ups I’ve read for this month have said the same thing, but it’s worth saying again: how is it already July? I can still remember making my crazy wrap up for January (yes, the one that was 3150 words long) like it was yesterday. I subtitled that one ‘one month down, eleven to go,’ and now we’re at ‘seven months down, five to go.’ How????
Anyways, as the first month of summer I feel like I had a pretty good reading month. Here’s what I’ve read:

Off the Record (9781984829993): Garrett, Camryn: Books - Amazon.com

Amazon.com: Not My Problem (9781839130854): Smyth, Ciara: Books
Amazon.com: Ace of Spades (9781250800817): Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah: Books
  • Off the Record by Camryn Garrett. This was a book that I was super excited for because I’d read the author’s first book a few months ago and loved it and I’m glad to say that it didn’t disappoint! I loved the story, the characters, basically everything! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth. This book is everything. It’s funny and it’s fun (two different things) and it has some important lessons and it has an amazing slow burn romance and it’s just so great. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. This book was shocking and beautifully written and just such an amazing debut. It had so many twists and turns! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: American Street (9780062473042): Zoboi, Ibi: Books
American Royals (American Royals, #1) by Katharine McGee
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi. This was one that I read for school and I didn’t enjoy it immensely, it felt sort of slow at points, but overall it WAS a good story and I’m super glad that schools are assigning better books for reading (at least for summer reading, at least in my school). ⭐⭐⭐
  • American Royals by Katherine McGee. I was recommended this book by a friend who only reads very rarely and who loved this book so, despite a lot of bad reviews I saw, I gave it a try but unfortunately I did not enjoy it at all. ⭐⭐
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. I adored this book. Easily my favorite middle grade book of all time (sorry Percy Jackson). It was such a fun book and SUPER unique and taught some great lessons, too! The friendships in this book were really valued which was awesome and there needs to be more books about that! I am so glad that this is a book. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe (A Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 2) (A Sal and Gabi  Novel, 2): Hernandez, Carlos: 9781368022835: Amazon.com: Books
One Last Stop: McQuiston, Casey: 9781250244499: Amazon.com: Books
Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow, #3) by Rainbow Rowell
  • Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. Book two was just as good as book one! I loved how Sal and Gabi’s friendship developed even more and the amazing production that their school ended up putting on. This book also deals with child abuse at times and I loved how Hernandez was able to weave that into the book in a way that middle grade readers could read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. Much to everyone’s shock and horror I actually have yet to read RW&RB and I was going to hold off on reading this one too but then a friend lent it to me. This was a nice romance but it wasn’t great on the science fiction elements so if you are looking for romance, go for it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell. This is definitely a finale that lots of people have been waiting a while for. Overall, it was good and a nice finish to the series but nothing special. I did enjoy it better than I enjoyed book two though. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: The Cousins (9780525708001): McManus, Karen M.: Books
It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland
Amazon.com: Shatter the Sky (The Shatter the Sky Duology) (9781534437913):  Wells, Rebecca Kim: Books
  • The Cousins by Karen McManus. I picked this book up on a whim from my first library trip since Covid started and I have to say I’m surprised…because I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. The plot twist was surprising but it didn’t make up for the rest of the book being fairly boring. ⭐⭐
  • It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland. This was an anticipated release of mine, and I really enjoyed it! I got it at my most recent bookstore trip thanks to a gift card and I loved the characters and how they dealt with the past! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells. It’s about time that I read this book. I heard the author speak at a webinar about a year ago (and actually wrote my first blog post about that, though it was super cringey) and have been meaning to get to her book since then. I finally did, and it was a pretty good book! As the first fantasy I’d read in a while, I enjoyed it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (9781984896360): Jackson, Holly:  Books
Amazon.com: Yesterday Is History (9781492694342): Jackson, Kosoko: Books
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. This is the first time I’ve read this book. It’s been popular for so long, so many people love it, but I’d just never picked it up until now. And I LOVED it. Yes, there were some parts in which Pippa did some not great things (breaking into someone’s house? Pretending to be someone she isn’t to get info?) but the mystery itself, the reveal…I loved it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson. This was an over 300 page book but I’m not entirely sure where those pages went, because it sure felt a lot shorter. I mean, overall I enjoyed this book, but there were a lot of things about it that felt lacking, most of all the relationship development. ⭐⭐⭐

The Monthly Bingo is created by A Colorful Bibliophile and it is totally amazing, so please head over there and check it out! It’s such a fun thing to do and I hope you’ll join in on it! Here’s the link to August’s board and here’s what I’ve done for this month!

I only wrote two posts this much which is down from my 3 last month but also I was away for about 2 weeks this month so whatever. Both these posts were super fun, though, so I’m really happy about them!

I loved hosting this interview and I think it’s my favorite interview to date!
This is probably my favorite post I’ve written, it was super fun to write!

July Goals:

  • Write a pretty big chunk of my book
  • Do at least half of my summer work (don’t you dare leave it all for August)✅❌
  • Read 12 books
  • Catch up on book reviews on goodreads
  • Try to play some more softball (if your body doesn’t continue to get hurt in various ways)

August Goals:

  • Finish summer work
  • Exercise some more
  • Play more softball
  • Catch up on goodreads reviews
  • Schedule your day

Overall, July was a SUPER fun month! It was the first month of my summer break so I had some more time to do stuff and I definitely did do some stuff!

  • I went to softball camp! This was huge for me because it was basically my first time playing softball after I fractured my elbow back in May. Fortunately, my elbow is all better now and camp was amazing. I learned a lot and made a lot of friends!
  • I also went on vacation. I’m not going to say where, but I just got back yesterday (If I post this on Sunday like I’m hoping to). It was a really nice vacation, I went on some hikes, I got some ice cream, and I just got to get away from my house for a bit!
  • I restarted the book I’m writing+did some planning. This is the book that I began writing back in…January? Something like that. I first thought of it way back in November or something like that. I’m on draft number 3 now, but this time I’ve done some more planning and have a pretty good idea for where I want it to go.
  • Baseball. I feel like this is something that has to be in every wrap up because the wrap ups are my only chance to talk about baseball. But the trade deadline closed on Friday and oh my gosh what the heck happened. I am still in shock over the Cubs and the Nationals and kind of distraught, too.

That’s a wrap! How was your month of July? Have you read any of the books that I read this month? And how’s your life been?
Thank you so much for reading this, it means the world. As always, stay safe and keep on reading!