Unusually expressive for its simple vocabulary, the latest from the Gravel Road series sees high schooler Gabby Herrera coping with depression, strict parents and her own impulsive decision-making.
When Gabby earns a C-average on her report card, her parents' response is swift and harsh. Gabby is forbidden to use her phone, required to start an after-school job at the Grocery Mart warehouse and, worst, forced to quit the basketball team. Angry and powerless, Gabby lashes out at those closest to her. That Gabby's fighting, drinking and unkind comments are disproportionate to the situation and alarming to those who care about her is made apparent to readers through subtle detail and the words of well-drawn characters. Gabby's relationships with friends and family are similarly complex. Camaraderie develops among Gabby and her new friends from work, but readers can observe ways the older co-workers treat Gabby poorly: sending her home from a party with a drunk driver; flirting with her but, confusingly, hooking up with other girls. Most poignant is Gabby's relationship with her favorite uncle, Mike, who only she knows is gay, and the way Gabby's mental stability unravels when her family rejects Mike is both believable and heartbreaking.
A many-layered tale, simply told. (Fiction. 12-18)