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Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez #BookReview

How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.

Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.

A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Title: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe | Series: Sal & Gabi #1 | Author: Carlos Hernandez | Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents | Pub. Date: 2019-March-5 | Language(s): English, Spanish | Pages: 382 | Source: Self-purchased | Starred Review

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Sal & Gabi Break the Universe Review

I loved this book with all the bookwormy love I have in my heart to give. I mean, I still ‘bought it for my kid’ instead of just flat out buying it for me, but let’s be honest…it was always for me. Ever since I read Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Universe (hey, theme?) by Kwame Mbalia, this line from Rick Riordan Presents has been on my radar.

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe starts off strong and gets better from there. It has everything I needed in it.

  • Family (including extended, family-by-choice, etc.) that love each other.
  • A diverse MC w/ Type 1 Diabetes.
  • A boy MC who does not give one flying f*ck about ‘being manly’ and instead does his best to make the right decisions. (Death to teaching our kids toxic masculinity!)
  • Fart jokes (Okay, just 1, but it’s perfectly timed and I cracked up laughing.)
  • Age appropriate talk of abuse and death (not related) that suckerpunched me right in the feels when I wasn’t expecting it.
  • Extradimensional poultry

Honestly, this was chicken noodle soup for my very beaten, very broken soul. I loved every page of it, even when my nose and eyes were burning because I was trying not to cry. It’s got action, adventure, science, science fiction, love, tears, and silliness.

Carlos Hernandez is an author I will be reading more from after experiencing Sal & Gabi Break the Universe. It is a book that lifts you up and tells you everything is going to be okay. I think no matter how old someone is, they need books like this sometimes. A book with a story so good, and feelings so real and beautiful that it doesn’t matter that it’s written for a middle-grade audience.

A good story transcends age range.

This was one hell of a good story.

You can purchase an electronic copy of this book via your e-reader retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. Click the names to find links to it from or through Bookshop at

Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Content Warnings:

dying baby in NICU, parental abuse

Published inKids FantasyKids Science FictionStarred Reviews

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┬ęSci-Fi & Scary 2019
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