Summary: Gloria Buenrostro Is Not My Girlfriend
Gary Vo is a Vietnamese-American soon-to-be junior high schooler. Gary and his friend Preston have been at the bottom of the social totem pole forever, and Preston is determined that this is the summer they rise up the ranks. So when they’re approached by two popular classmates with an offer to join their group, the boys are all ears! The task is to steal a bracelet from Gloria Buenrostro (a popular, but mysterious A+ student) so the boys can add it to their collections of tokens from “the hottest girls” in school. Easy enough, no? That is until Gary Vo befriends Gloria and realizes that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
This YA debut hits all the right notes for me, and despite not being a love story, I fell completely in love with it. First off, the setting is so atmospheric and takes you straight to Gary and Gloria’s neighborhood, bringing it to life so vividly that it feels like you’ve been there at least once in real life. Gloria and Gary feel like real teenagers in their interests and interactions, and there’s a whole tandem biking situation that is delightfully quirky.
Next, I enjoyed that this book delivers on a platonic relationship, even though one party obviously has a crush on the other. The author sensitively handles the issue of consent and bodily autonomy as the two teens form a friendship. In Gloria’s relationship with another boy, the author also explores sexual harassment in a gentle way suitable for younger readers.
Throughout Gloria and Gary’s friendships and their summer exploits–from delivering mended clothes to breaking into country club pools–two themes are constantly present. The first one is the seed from which this story grows: toxic masculinity and Gary’s attempt to break free despite being surrounded by boys who are poor examples. The other is classism, which we see illustrated with both kids, but especially with Gloria, who is viewed differently after she and her mother move to the poor part of town after her parents’ divorce.
Finally, I loved the relationship between Gary and his sister (especially over time), and her story adds to the plot’s richness too. There’s a lot to unpack in this story, but I loved that everything is transmitted in the most relatable and compelling way for the teens who will read this one.
- Death: None on the page
- Alcohol/substance abuse: Underage drinking
- Violence: Mild instances
- Sexual content: A kiss between two teens
- Ethnic: Main characters are Vietnamese-American and Latina.
- Sexual orientation: Main characters cued straight
Recommended for ages: 13+
Good for kids who like:
- YA books without romance
- Books set in the summer
- Young YA books
- Books with male protagonists
|Publisher details||Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)|
|Publication date:||June 27, 2023|
|Cover artists | Designer:|
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