Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Readers who enjoyed Carlos Hernandez’s Nebula-nominated Sal and Gabi Break the Universe are likely to also enjoy the sequel, Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe (2020). The story picks up where the previous one left off. Sal’s “magical” abilities have left holes in the universe and his father (Papi) is building a machine (in the living room) that he hopes will fix the holes. But Sal notices that the machine makes him feel sad when he’s around it… and it might be developing consciousness.
Other weird things are happening, too. Sal meets a Gabby from another universe who has come to warn him about Papi’s machine. The new toilet at school wants to be friends. The entropy sweeper (that we met in the previous book) has ambitions and is willing to cheat. Gabby (the one from Sal’s universe) is spying on people with drones.
The story is silly, wacky, and often hilarious, such as when Papi’s machine and the entropy sweeper are arguing, and when Sal’s butt gets wedged into the chicken factory universe in the bully’s locker.
The plot is a little too similar to the plot of the previous book, including an episode where all the parents get together to help the kids pull off another amazing school production, but it’s all just as charming as it was the first time. And sweet. There are a few tear-jerking scenes involving Yasmany, the loveable dancing bully.
Hernandez continues to educate his audience about diabetes, bullying, Cuban culture, and just a touch of physical cosmology and metaphysics. I love what he says about art — that people make art to show you what the world feels like to them and that we should put aside our preconceptions and try to understand what the artist is trying to show us.
Listening Library’s audio version of Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe is so entertaining. Anthony Rey Perez gives a wonderful performance that I recommend if you want to read the SAL AND GABI books.