Parent Involvement: Unnecessary
Gabriela McBride is the Girl of the Year 2017
Time for Change – Gabriela Book 3
Where the first two books of the Gabriela McBride series felt disjointed and scattered, book 3 Time for Change addresses and explains some of the previous disconnect.
In Book One, Gabriela is all about Dance, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop. She expresses herself through Dance and she feels the most at home in the dance studio. Some of her best and oldest friends are in her dance classes. She is new to poetry, but her passion is in Dance.
In Book Two, she almost never even mentions dance at all, not even her friends she knows from dance, instead she is learning to overcome, or perhaps better stated, to work with her stutter and claim her own voice. Part of how she is embracing that process is by writing and reciting poetry in a poetry group, the side story is her run for 6th grade student government and tapping into the skills she has learned in poetry to steady and trust her voice.
While both are excellent stand alone books with great messages, they do almost seem like an entirely different story, not truly a sequel.
For book 3, New-to-American Girl Young Adult novel author, Varian Johnson picked up the series from Teresa E Harris, and while I have to admit, I had some reservations about a male author stepping into the already divided series, He absolutely made Gabriela’s Finale shine.
Let’s face it, American Girl characters, whether from the Historical series, the Contemporary Characters and perhaps even more obviously the Girls of the Year, are very much defined by their skill, passion or hobby. The very first paragraphs of her story share what she wants and why, and almost every challenge she faces during her books are guided by or lead her further on the path to becoming that, typically, the last paragraphs of her series reinforce that she is still on the same path, though further along the journey. Very seldom, if ever, are we introduced to an American Girl Character who doesn’t just add a new hobby, but legitimately looses interest into what she was introduced as being passionate about.
According to book 3, this is what happened to Gabriela. She wants to keep loving dance, she wants to find the same sense of peace it brought her for most of her life, but, she just doesn’t feel it anymore. It has become a chore to begrudgingly check off her to-do list instead of something that brings her joy. She starts thinking about quitting ballet altogether. Then, her ballet teacher says the class is ready to graduate to Pointe shoes, something that Gabriela has dreamed of for as long as she can remember, but she isn’t excited. She might even feel a little guilty.
The day the class is going to get fit for their Pointe shoes arrives, but Gabriela is far more interested in continuing to work on her poems than in trying on shoe after shoe. Gabriela overhears her mother tell her ballet teacher “I’ve been dreaming of and imagining this day since the day I found out we were having a daughter.” Later, the cashier says to Gabby “Just imagine, This’ll be you someday, telling your own kid about the day your biggest dream came true.” Gabriela thinks about the statement on the way home, ‘When I imagined telling someone about the day my biggest dream came true… I couldn’t picture the day my biggest dream came true, because that day hadn’t happened yet, the poetry competition was still three weeks away.’
After shopping for Pointe shoes, she feels like she has to stay in Ballet because it means so much to her mom, and even though she is struggling with disinterest and too many projects activities to keep up with, she can’t imagine disappointing her mom.
After she fails to do her homework or exercises for Ballet several weeks in a row and her teacher tells her that if she can’t keep up, she’ll need to not be in Pointe shoes for her own safety, Gabriela finally tells her mother she would rather not continue. She’s been having trouble with her friends because she doesn’t have time for them, and since she isn’t getting the same joy from Ballet, she thinks it’s time for her to leave it behind. Her mom surprises her by being supportive and not disappointed. Her mom explains that people and interests change and she would never want to hold her back from doing what she loves just because her mom loves something else.
After telling her Ballet teacher she is leaving the class, Gabriela asks for some time alone in the studio to “Say good-bye to her first dream”. The book does show a bit of a grief process of her letting go of Ballet, although on a whole she is relieved to have more time to focus on her friends and her new passions, there are still pieces of her that are sad at the loss.
All-In-All I thought Gabriela Book 3, Time for Change was one of the better AG books of 2017, She remains sweet and well-meaning, while still standing up for what is right for herself and in the world. I was impressed at the addressing of changing interest as a person grows and changes, which was the real driver of this book.
Gabriela is a fantastic role-model both in relationships and communication. Her stutter and self-consiousness around it still figures into the story, but in a much more secondary fashion, she has grown more comfortable and confident in herself over the course of the last two books.
I give the series in general two thumbs up, and especially the 3rd book!
Have you ever felt like you’ve grown out of something that used to make you happy? How did that make you feel?
Do you ever feel overwhelmed balancing friends, family, school and activities? What are some things that might help you feel better about that?
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