Nearly 16-year-old Isabel "Isa" José is not reeling from the aftermath of the illness of her older sister, Makena. Nope, no siree, because to Isa, this would sound exceedingly clichéd and much too melodramatic.
Isa couldn't be further from a cliché: She is a self-proclaimed word nerd and grammar guru; she is also a decent varsity tennis doubles player with a high-B average at her suburban-northeast-LA high school. If you ask Isa, the ones who are reeling—even spiraling—are her annoying ghetto-poser brother; her resting-bitch-faced, passionately steadfast mother; and her chillaxed-but-forever-Mafioso father. After all, young-onset colon cancer in a Filipino-American family would not qualify as...a cliché.
In this zany, gut-wrenching sequel to Groovy Girl—winner of the 2022 National Indie Excellence Award for Asian American Pacific Islander Fiction—Isa continues to look for, maybe even find, her place in a world that could be, simply, absurdly ridiculous.
Why are two of Makena's ex-boyfriends—Berkeley grads with fathers who both happen to be cardiologists—suddenly in Isa's life? Could this be a blatant metaphor for Isa's hurting heart? And who is this gangly, adorable boy-man she meets in an elevator at a San Francisco hotel, and why is her hurting heart booming like the greatest bass tone ever?
Groovy Girl 2: Sabina Saved finds most of its mise-en-scène inside Isa's discombobulated but sparkling mind, set against flashbacks and present-world experiences that make this quirky, hot-blooded teen question so much, perhaps all too much—everything from her own exemplary grammar, along with the un-motives of her lively, uncompromisingly forthright titas and titos, to what might engulf her soul in flames, whether it's teaching journaling classes or helping a former bully in need.
If you fell in love with the scrappy, precocious 8-year-old in Groovy Girl, you might not, at the outset, be so enamored of the hard-bitten teen in Groovy Girl 2. You could, however, end up adoring the holy heck out of Miss Isa J. by the time her cackle-inducing, thought-provoking musings inhabit your own discombobulated, sparkling mind.
Nah—you won't fall in love. Nope, no siree, because that would be much too clichéd and exceedingly melodramatic...