Title: Gloria Buenrostro Is Not My Girlfriend by Brandon Hoàng
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Summary: Gary Võ is one of the few Vietnamese kids in his school and has been shy for as long as he can remember—being ignored and excluded by his classmates comes with the territory. So when the most popular guy in his grade offers Gary the opportunity to break into his inner circle, Gary jumps at the chance. All he needs to do is steal the prized possession of the most beautiful and untouchable girl they know—Gloria Buenrostro.
But as Gary gets to know Gloria, he’s taken in by her authenticity and genuine interest in who he really is. Soon, they’re best friends. Being part of the “in crowd” has always been Gary’s dream, but as he comes closer to achieving infamy, he risks losing the first person who recognizes his true self. Gary must consider if any amount of popularity is worth losing a true friend.
My Thoughts: I’ve gotta say, Gary burrowed his way into my heart. He makes some poor choices here and there, but he also learns and grows. He’s open to change and though he is risk averse, he does ultimately step out in vulnerability when it counts.
Watching Gary and Gloria’s friendship develop is a treat. They start out with awkwardness, but that changes pretty quickly as they hang out and discover new things about each other. They share their foods and meet each others’ family members and Gary discovers just how much his ideas about Gloria were shaped by surface level things. He had so many misconceptions and just a few days with Gloria really opens his eyes. There are continually things for them to learn about the other and they just keep uncovering more all summer long.
I appreciated that though there is a romance angle, the bulk of the book is about the development of a friendship and what a precious commodity that can be. Their relationship is contrasted with some of their other friendships too. The best friendships help us be our best selves and Gary and Gloria do encourage each other, but they also manage to hurt each other on the way.
Recommendation: Get it soon. This will be a great summer read for fans of contemporary fiction. Gary and Gloria’s blossoming friendship is filled with humor, a few tears, and a lot of sweet moments.
Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley
Availability: On shelves June 27, 2023
Extra: Book Tour Event Schedule