3volve by Josefina Gutierrez is the spirited and engaging New Adult novel about Cristal Escobedo, an almost-dysfunctional twenty-two-year-old who has to grow up very fast taking care of her two younger brothers. She’s also got this problem of falling for her best friend. Though 3volve is part of a series, it works well as a standalone novel.
A self-described “mess,” Cristal is a highly entertaining character. Her voice is at once loose and driven, and brazen in her opinions about herself, and everyone else around her. She’s vulnerable without being weak, and never pathetic. She doesn’t magically become adept overnight with her new responsibilities, her maturation is gradual, and so more realistic. Cristal is an electric and entertaining narrator, juggling a number of different problems at once.
This isn’t to say this is light reading. Cristal has to face some very real difficulties, and doesn’t always make the best decisions along the way. There’s real pain in the novel, making it much more affecting. She’s crude at times, but that makes her all the more endearing, though reader be warned: there is a fair bit of profanity. It’s also a culturally-rich novel, reflecting Gutierrez’s Hispanic heritage, and includes a glossary of Spanish terms in the back. All in all, Gutierrez is an author to watch.