Griselda Zaragoza refuses to accept her new family lifestyle, by secretly selling makeup to her classmates! Griselda is our multicultural protagonist in this contemporary fiction novel. She often gets called “Geez” (G.Z. for short), who lives a happy, suburban life with her older sister, Mabel, and parents. However, Griselda’s world is shattered when her father’s landscaping company falls. Now, Griselda, her sister and mother must move elsewhere for a more hopeful future, while her father must stay in Los Angeles to find more work. Griselda will do whatever it takes to go back home, and it is her strong-minded soul that can positively influence young readers. I really liked reading this story for its entrepreneurial take, biculturalism, team-spirit, and ultimately, about becoming an open and confident person.
Mabel is a strong, female supporting protagonist the novel gives us. She chooses to postpone college to work as a salesperson for Alma Cosmetics. It is through her that Griselda begins getting her entrepreneurial spirit. We also get some of the funniest moments in the book through their interactions. When Maribel finds out Griselda is eager to sell makeup, she says “what I don’t get is why you’re doing this…never mind I don’t want to know.” I had a burst of giggles because it is typical sibling and/or friend interaction, reminding me of my own. When Griselda seeks Maribel’s advice for Alma Cosmetics, Maribel tells her a secret about business – having a limited amount of product will get the attention of customers like Kennedy Castro, Griselda’s classmate, who like having things that other people can’t have and who, most of all, like to stand out. Then, Maribel further explains how selling popular colors are usually for people who want to feel as if they belong. Now that’s some of the great psychology behind a business that Jennifer Torres beautifully crafted. I was left with a new sense of entrepreneurship. Kuddos to her!
Finding out the reasons behind why people call Griselda “Geez” instead of her actual name was an “ugh” moment for me. It is explained that her best friend, Sophia Arong, told her the name Griselda is so “you know”, and started calling her “Geez”. It is understandable that when one is young, she/he goes through a turmoil of emotions and lack seeing others’ point-of-view. Griselda also expresses feeling ashamed of her own name. Sophia’s comment highlights the importance of respecting names from all cultures, and learning to pronounce them properly. Griselda does not share her socio-economic transition with Sophia, causing all sorts of miscommunication. Griselda and Sophia’s interactions worsen as Griselda tries to adjust from a middle-class status to a low-income station. Rest assured, their friendship will go through a roller coaster of emotions and you’ll want to stay along for the ride. I think many young readers could relate to Griselda, whether they are going from a high-to-low socio-economic station, or are part of a low-income background and have hard time believing in themselves for who they are. This story is a meaningful addition to the bookshelves. Jennifer Torres did a fabulous job mixing in business with personal growth.
On the other side of the main plot, Griselda has a collection of fictitious vintage teacups that state quotes from some of the First Ladies of the United States. I really liked this recurring theme of female empowerment and support. Among them are from Rosalynn Carter, “You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through,” or “Life does not seem very simple just now, but kind thoughts like yours help to make it so in time,” from Edith Roosevelt. These are intriguing quotes for readers to ponder and reflect on, helping it stand out among other books. Also, there isn’t another Latinx protagonist in children’s literature with a first and last name like Griselda Zaragoza, which also helps the character stand out and be memorable.
There are also golden cultural nuggets in the storyline, such as Griselda’s mom calling her “corazón” and Nana telling her “ ándale mija”. In terms of other relatable circumstances, Maribel’s decision to postpone college for work is something many could relate to no matter what the financial reasons are. Near the end of the story, I was able to feel the characters’ shock as the plot unfolds.
One thing I was looking forward to was Griselda’s 6th grade Living History Museum. It is an event where the 6th graders are supposed to dress up in a homemade costume and give speeches as famous Americans from the past. I did not get a sense of closure with that part of the story.
The Fresh New Face of Griselda has a unique, multicultural character who does what she can to financially help her family. This novel helps open the gateway about the importance of being selfless, understanding, and, for parents/guardians, being willing to let all of your children know and comprehend the financial circumstances of the household in a positive manner. It is an intriguing, entertaining, and surprising middle-grade novel that will leave you with a bigger entrepreneurial, helping spirit.
I’m excited to see more Jennifer Torres books! If you haven’t already, I really recommend another one of her middle-grade books, Stef Soto, Taco Queen. I would also love to see a young adult novel by Jennifer Torres. Cheers!
💅🏼💐💄 #BookRecommendation #LibrosRecomendados #BookReview #ReseñadelLibro 💄💐💅🏼
Rating: 4.5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟