Review: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

I’ve got to be real with you. I don’t know a single thing about physics or magic tricks. But holy hell, I loved Sal and Gabi Break the Universe.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe CoverHow 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 his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter. (Goodreads) Goodreads

I received an eARC of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Middle school is hard, especially at a new school in a new state. It’s even harder when you can rip holes in the universe and you don’t know how you’re doing it.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe needs content warnings for the death of a parent, severe illness of an infant, hospitalization due to diabetic shock, bullying, mentions of an abusive parent, and a runaway teenager.

There were so many good things about this novel. Hernandez is a stunning writer and I can’t wait to read more of his work.

Culeco seemed like a dream of a middle school. I remember middle school being a lot more traumatic and socially horrible, but I’ll take this version for sure. I loved that this book took down a lot of aspects of toxic masculinity and did it in such a way that acknowledged how hard it is to change habits that have been ingrained in us, even as young as thirteen. It also broke down a lot of cisheteronormativity and allonormativity naturally.

I loved the way that, unlike many of the other stories in the Rick Riordan Presents Imprint, Sal has no idea how he really does what he does. Even his dad the calamity physicist (which is a job I would totally love to exist), doesn’t understand where this ability came from. I loved that it skewed more sci-fi than fantasy. I think that future books in this series will feature a lot of experiments.

I was a little confused by Gabi’s family – I couldn’t tell if it was a polyamorous family with all of the dads or just an extended Cuban found family. With that being said, I loved their whole family, the way they supported each other and how they welcomed everyone into it with them.

I can’t wait to see more of Sal and Gabi’s adventures, with their families, Aventura and Yasmany in the future. You can grab a copy on Amazon, Indiebound or The Book Depository.


Title: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

Series: Sal and Gabi #1

Author: Carlos Hernandez

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents

Length: 382 Pages

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: Highly Recommended

Genre:  Middle Grade Contemporary Science Fiction

Representation: Cuban American Author, Cuban American main character, Diabetic main character, Cuban American side characters


Want to help support Let’s Fox About It and help it go ad-free? Subscribe to our Patreon!

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound, The book depository, ripped bodice, and Amazon are affiliate links. If you buy through those links, LFAI will make a small amount of money off of the sale.