Last year, while looking for novels in verse, I read the Middle-Grade book, They Call Me Güero and loved it. I got very excited when I found Güero was on a new adventure. I picked THEY CALL HER FREGONA for my first November read... on audiobook. And this is what I think.
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Between being a band member with his old crew, Los Bobbys, and his new relationship with Joanna Padilla, Güero's summer has become very busy. They call Joanna "fregona" because she's tough and strong; someone who always defends her family, and puts the school bully in his place. However, Güero can see in Joanna that kind and sweet girl in the magic moments they share. But when Joanna faces a family tragedy, Güero realizes that relationships, as beautiful as they are, require commitment and being there for the person you care about.
While THEY CALL ME GÜERO focuses on topics like self-identity and family relationships, in THEY CALL ME FREGONA, Bowles, through poignant verses and powerful lines that feel like a "golpecito" to the chest, explores themes of immigration, xenophobia, bullying, racism, sexuality, and gender. Despite being a middle-grade novel, THEY CALL HER FREGONA doesn't shy away from these heavy topics.
What I liked the most was the diverse group of Güero's friends and how the dialogues in Spanish enrich the story, giving a real-life perspective on the US border.
No matter the format, THEY CALL HER FREGONA is a book that deserves to be read.
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