Xolo Score 4.5/5
Gabriela Ricci is a 12-year-old Honduran American adoptee living in New York. When their middle school writing teacher assigns the class to write about their authentic self, Gabriela feels caught off guard. How does one know who their “authentic self” is? The only thing Gabriela feels confident about their self is that they love vibing to music with their favorite person in their world, their mom. But Gabriela knows they have never felt entirely comfortable with their growing body and community. When Gabriela befriends Abbie, an Indian and Peruvian American trans intersex YouTube star, and Héctor, a bisexual Guatemalan American genderfluid person, Gabriela starts getting lessons in Queer 101 and begins to explore words and titles that validate their experience.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
Gabriela is growing up and unsure about many things, but they know that their changing body is making them feel uncomfortable. When Gabriela befriends Abbie and Héctor, they learn about the complex and intersecting identities that each friend proudly carries. And it is through Abbie and Héctor’s experiences that Gabriela is empowered to explore their own identities and learn more about Queerness. Gabriela has the space to try new things, such as dating another girl in class, wearing a binder, and changing their gender presentation. And not everything feels suitable for Gabriela, but the space to explore on their terms without judgment or shame allows them to discover new words to describe themselves, such as nonbinary and asexual.
An essential part of Gabriela’s journey is the unconditional love and support they receive from their friends and mother. Each character in Gabriela’s life is also managing difficulties in their life. Gabriela’s mother lives with depression and can’t always be present for Gabriela. Both Abbie and Héctor experience trans and biphobia. These are the harsh realities that medina approaches with care and empathy to demonstrate the importance of the groups’ love and compassion that they have for each other.
The One Who Loves You is an inspirational story about a 12-year-old Honduran American adoptee’s journey of self-acceptance and exploration of queer identity.
To what extent are there BIPOC leading characters or perspectives?
How well does the author avoid writing BIPOC experiences through the white gaze?
To what extent does the author challenge white-centered beliefs?
How well does the book explore nuances between intersectional identities?