Can winning a cosmetics contest help make the difference for the struggling Zaragoza family?
Griselda “Geez” Zaragoza (it’s short for G.Z.) is entering sixth grade when her life changes drastically. First, her father’s landscaping company goes out of business, then her parents lose their family home, which leads to a move for Geez, big sister Maribel, and Mom to Nana’s with her dad living six hours away to find new work in Los Angeles. Geez faces her family’s new economic reality with an authentic mix of concern, shame, and, ultimately, resourcefulness. Without a new first-day-of-school outfit, she adds ribbon to her plain, “in our price range” sneakers and cuffs her faded jeans so “it almost looks as if that’s the way they’re supposed to fit.” When she learns about an Alma Cosmetics contest from Maribel, she’s determined to sell 500 tubes of lip gloss for a chance to win $5,000, because “it might be enough for that fresh start we’ve all been trying to find.” Torres realistically portrays a Latinx family with true-to-life dynamics, tensions, and worries in an extended clan in which Spanish phrases are spoken naturally. Fans of Kelly Yang’s Front Desk (2018) will enjoy Geez’ entrepreneurial spirit and appreciate another strong-minded young woman of color seeking ways to relieve her family’s financial burden.
An enjoyable story about the ingenuity and bonds that help a family withstand tough times. (Fiction. 8-12)