Gaby Ramirez Howard is having a rough time. Since her mom was deported to Honduras, she has had to live with her dad. He means well; but he hasn’t been around for most of her childhood and his parenting skills are rusty, to say the least. The only bright spot in Gaby’s week is Friday, when she gets to spend the weekend at best friend Alma Gomez’s house. The Gomez family loves Gaby and would like her to live with them—at least until her mom returns. But Mr. Howard takes his responsibilities seriously, and refuses. Things begin to change, however, when the girls take on the local animal shelter as their sixth-grade project. Gaby becomes the shelter’s profile writer, helping to market the animals, and falls in love with an abandoned cat named Feather. The ways in which Gaby comes to terms with the fact that her mother cannot return, she and Feather both find families, and she becomes a more understanding and braver person, form the bulk of this fast-paced, readable story.
With immigration reform front and center of the national discourse, this is a great book to spark discussions and take on the issue of children born and raised in the United States and living with the risk of losing one, or both parents. Although the protagonist is female, strong adult and child male characters give this story general appeal. The book also reads aloud well, perhaps for those family-reading times.
—Reviewed by Ann Welton, Library Media Specialist, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA