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Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

Hernandez, Carlos. (2019). Sal & Gabi Break the Universe. Los Angeles, CA: Disney Hyperion.

Fiction. Grades 4-8.

Protagonists Sal Vidón and Gabi Reál meet the third day of school, and even though the meeting is under unusual circumstances, they quickly become close friends. Both have complications in their lives that they have learned to live with in their own distinct ways. Neither Sal nor Gabi use their difficulties as excuses but rather attempt to face life boldly. Throughout the book, they come to learn that everyone has a story and sometimes those stories are hard and difficult; and we don’t always know someone and their particular circumstances outside of school (or work), but being decent, understanding, and helpful can go a long way.

Want some sci-fi in your reading? This book has it: multiuniverses, robots, Artificial Intelligence, holes into parallel universes, a remembranation machine, calamitrons, manipulations of time, and more. Sal makes holes in the universe, knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. No one else can see these holes. No one, that is, until he meets Gabi. Together they try and figure out why these holes are happening, why sometimes there is not a hole when something comes in from a parallel universe, and why when there are holes, they are not closing as quickly as they should.

Throw in an amazing school that celebrates and encourages student and staff creativity and differences; Cuban culture and food; Spanish dichos, slang, and conversation; and a slew of dads, which also means – dad jokes; and you have a recipe for a spectacular story.

This was a fun read. I especially liked how Hernandez inserted quotes from famous men and women throughout the book. These quotes, relevant to whatever situation was at hand, showed up on Gabi's t-shirts. Great idea! Can't wait to read book #2: Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe.

2020 Pura Belpré Author Award Winner

Review by: Cassandra E. Osterloh, NHCC Librarian

Available in the NHCC Library YA PZ7.1 .H4943 Sal 2019

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