Accidental Love
  • Accidental Love
  • Accidental Love

Accidental Love

3.9 34
by Gary Soto

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It all starts when Marisa picks up the wrong cell phone. When she goes to return it, she feels something she's never felt before, something a bit like . . . love.

But Marisa and Rene aren't exactly a match made in heaven. For one thing, Marisa is a chola, and she isn't petite; she's a lot of girl, and she's not ashamed of it. Skinny Rene, however, gangles

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It all starts when Marisa picks up the wrong cell phone. When she goes to return it, she feels something she's never felt before, something a bit like . . . love.

But Marisa and Rene aren't exactly a match made in heaven. For one thing, Marisa is a chola, and she isn't petite; she's a lot of girl, and she's not ashamed of it. Skinny Rene, however, gangles like a sackful of elbows and wears a calculator on his belt. In other words, he's a geek. So why can't Marisa stay away from him?

Award-winning author Gary Soto deftly captures all the angst, expectation, and humor that comes with first love in this swift, lighthearted romance.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The tough-girl/good-guy romance is a refreshing twist, and Marisa and Rene are unique and long-overdue characters."--The Bulletin
"With humor and insight, [Soto] creates memorable, likable characters."--Booklist
Publishers Weekly
When tough talking 14-year-old Marissa least expects it, she feels an attraction to the most unlikely of boys. An unplanned meeting between Marissa and Rene, a player whose only game is chess, causes sparks to fly. Marissa may start out believing that "Dang, the boy's a nerd," but she finds herself attracted to his manners and to this boy "whose bicycle was too big for him and whose eyeglasses were crooked on his cute small face." In somewhat of an abrupt move, she transfers to a magnet school to be closer to him ("far up north where the Sierras peeked through the valley smog"). Marissa and her "muy wimpy" novio learn a thing or two about each other and themselves when he coaxes her to audition with him for a part in Romeo and Juliet. Their relationship develops slowly and credibly, and Marissa, in the novel's refreshing approach, soon realizes that she'd rather have nerdy Rene for a boyfriend than many of the macho guys she has come across. Soto accurately depicts popularity and stereotypes in high school, while conveying a melting pot of cultures. The teens' struggles shine through with simplicity and authenticity. Soto fluidly incorporates Spanish words into the dialogue (and ends with a glossary). He successfully bridges gender and cultural issues that affect teens, while pinpointing details that portray life in California's Central Valley. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Debra Mitts-Smith
After an altercation with her best friend's boyfriend, Marisa picks up the wrong cell phone. When a boy phones her to straighten out the mistake, Marisa gets more than her phone back. The two arrange to meet, and Marisa is more intrigued than repulsed by the geeky young boy who comes to exchange phones. Similarly, the soft-spoken, studious Rene is not put off by Marisa's hard-edged impetuosity. As their relationship grows the two prove to be good influences on each other. Marisa begins to take school seriously and Rene starts to question his mother's destructive possessiveness. Although glimpses of Rene's home life and Marisa's school situation hint at the potential dangers of their worlds, Gary Soto's humor keeps the characters quirky and the romance light, making this a perfect summer read. Reviewer: Debra Mitts-Smith
Children's Literature
We meet a street-smart, tough, 14-year-old Marisa at the beginning of this novel. She is angry, without a boyfriend, fat, and devoted to her friend Alicia. By the end of the book, Marisa is happy, has found a boyfriend, has lost weight, and is more realistic about her friendship with Alicia. What brings about this transformation is time away from Marisa's regular haunts and falling in love with a nerdy boy. It begins with a fight Marisa starts in which she loses her cell phone and picks up another's. When the cell phones are exchanged, she meets Rene, a boy at Hamilton Magnet School who is very unlike Marisa. Yet, an attraction begins and the boy has an effect on her. Marisa transfers to his school by arranging to live in her aunt's home which is in the school's district. Soon she is acting in a play and following Rene to chess club. Even though school officials eventually send Marisa back to her high school, she has changed and has become a more mature and healthier Marisa who is now inclined to have a better future. The book is sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases. Marisa's family is blue-collar and Latino. The love interest between Marisa and Rene is of the first-love type with no sexual explorations. The novel is a quick read and will appeal to middle school girls. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 10 to 15.
—Jacki Vawter, Ph.D.
Marisa is large, loud, quick tempered, and without a boyfriend. Rene is small, quiet, and often picked on. They are as unlikely a match as Romeo and Juliet. But after Marisa and Rene meet during a fight in which she is involved, she finds that she cannot forget about him. She eventually switches schools to be with Rene and finds herself changing. She is careful about what she says, tries out for the school play, and takes her classes seriously. Rene has his own troubles with an overbearing and over-protective mother, who is determined that he stays the "nerd," as others view him as. Are these two truly Romeo and Juliet? Soto's novel displays the troubles when opposites attract but also how the relationship can make both people better. Marisa, as the narrator, is a stronger presence and more realized character than Rene. She is brash, loud, insecure, and at the same time confident. Her voice, particularly in the beginning, is funny and touching. An astute reader will recognize that Rene's difficulties with his mother are more severe than is at first obvious, but as a character he seems overwhelmed by Marisa, and somehow less realistic, perhaps because he is seen only through her eyes. Soto remains true to his community, painting a picture of Marisa's family, school, and neighborhood and interspersing Spanish language throughout this realistic romance between two young narrators learning to define themselves. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Harcourt, 192p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Mary Ann Harlan
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-A cell-phone mix-up leads to first love in this warmhearted, humorous novel. Marisa Rodriguez, 14, is an indifferent student at her run-down school, chubby from an excess of junk food, and too quick to express her anger with her fists. Still, she dreams of a better life. When she meets geeky Rene, love blossoms despite his highwater pants, white socks, and honking laugh. She is inspired to switch to a better high school, where she improves her grades, loses weight, and even gets a part in the school play. Obstacles present themselves, of course; Marisa's former classmates are threatened by her attempts to better herself, and Rene's domineering mother opposes their relationship. Soto's portrayal of Marisa's family, friends, and neighborhood-in a novel peppered with Spanish words and teen slang-is set in a world where poverty, drugs, and early pregnancy are acknowledged but don't dominate the story. Marisa is the most sympathetic character, while others are less fully developed. Occasionally stilted dialogue and clunky writing ("She breathed in and out like a prizefighter") will distract some readers. However, it's hard not to like spunky Marisa and appreciate the fresh point of view she brings to what otherwise might be a typical teen romance.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Marisa is in her first year of high school, a little overweight and always ready to pick a fight. After punching her best friend's cheating boyfriend in an elevator, she gets home to find she has someone else's cell phone-and realizes she must have switched phones with the nerdy kid who was in the elevator with them. When she meets Rene, she immediately notices his white socks and flood pants, and yet, she can't help wanting to hang around him. It's a first romance for both, and their efforts to change themselves and each other are touching and funny. There's a sweet and light touch to this love story-a lot of cuddly kissing, no heavy petting-keeping this squarely on the younger end of pre-teen (despite the older-looking cover). Set at two urban schools-one tougher, one suburban-and with Latino families (a glossary in the back will help those unfamiliar with Spanish words), this story offers readers much to identify with. Nothing terribly deep here, but it fills a gap in middle-school-age collections with something fresh and fun. (Fiction. 11-14)

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.54(d)
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

At fourteen Marisa welcomed any excuse to miss school. But today she had a good reason for cutting class. Alicia, her best friend, lay in the hospital with a broken leg and a broken heart, all because her boyfriend had crashed his parents' car when a tire blew. The leg had broken in the crash, but her heart had broken when the glove compartment opened on impact and shot out a photo of stupid Roberto with his arm around another girl.

Marisa was off to give her homegirl a meaningful hug. "He's such a shisty rat," she growled as she pictured that no-good Roberto, an average-looking fool whose fingers were always orange from Cheetos. She, too, savored that junk food snack, but-she argued-at least she always licked her fingers clean. But not him! Stupid jerk! Big pendejo! How could Alicia stand his face? She was always treating him to food and paying for gas for their car rides into the country.

Marisa's anger was deflected to a passing station wagon that nearly hit her as she started across the street. "You estúpido!" she spat as she threw her hands into the air in anger. The pair of eyes she saw in the rearview mirror were old and could have belonged to any of her six aunts. Ay, Chihuahua, how Marisa's grandmother bore children, all female, all large, all different as pepper from salt. Marisa admonished herself for yelling at the elderly driver. "Maybe it was one of mis tías," she told herself, and her rage dissolved. Her thoughts returned to Alicia tucked away in a hospital bed and then quickly to Roberto, the rat. If my boyfriend was cheating on me . . . She was brooding when she remembered that she didn't have a boyfriend. So what was the worry? She found herself shrugging and thinking she'd never have a boyfriend as she peeked at her stomach with its roll of fat.

"Room 438," she told herself as the salmon-colored hospital came into view. "That's where my homegirl is. She's gonna be hecka surprised." Marisa swallowed her fear. Hospitals were where you went to die. She remembered Grandma Olga's last days. Her grandmother, struggling with cancer, rolled from her side to her stomach to sitting on the bed and dangling her rope-thin legs. Dying, Marisa had thought then, was a matter of getting comfortable.

Marisa rode up in an elevator between two male nurses with paper bootees on their shoes. She herself had considered becoming a nurse, but that was years before, when she had dolls whose arms would fall off, and she would stick the arms back on only to have them fall off again. The dolls, she remembered, lay under her bed, their eyes open but not taking in a whole lot.

The elevator opened with a sigh. Marisa stepped out, glancing slowly left and then right. "Room 438," she muttered as she cut a glance to a man in a wheelchair pushing himself up the hallway by the strength of his thin arms. A bottle of clear fluid hung on a steel pole behind him, and clear tubes were delivering that fluid into his arms.

Marisa grimaced. She would hate to have something stabbed in her all day. Does it hurt like a pinch? she wondered. A bee sting?

When she located the room, Alicia was staring gloomily toward the ceiling. For a moment Marisa figured that Alicia was appealing to God in heaven. But as she stepped inside, she realized that Alicia's eyes were raised to a muted television. On the screen some carpenter was carrying a sheet of plywood over his head. It was a boring home-decorating show, the kind her mother liked to watch on Saturday afternoons.

"Hey, girl!" Marisa greeted loudly.

Alicia lowered her eyes to her friend, and for a few seconds her face was expressionless. Then it slowly blossomed with a smile. Her eyes narrowed into little slits of light.

"Marisa," Alicia greeted in return. She raised a feeble hand and Marisa grasped her friend's hand and gave it a loving squeeze, then smothered Alicia with a hug.

"How's it? Your pata?" Marisa asked as she sat on the edge of the bed.

"It's not my leg," Alicia replied, and rapped her heart as if it were a door. "It's this that's hurting."

Marisa's eyes flashed as her mind fluttered with the image of Roberto. Sure, he got in trouble with his parents for crashing the car, but wasn't Alicia worse off?

"I told you he was no good," Marisa offered in judgment. "Is your mom really mad?" Alicia's mother was an accountant and was not only good at numbers but also at keeping tabs on her daughter's whereabouts.

"A little bit. Actually, a lot," Alicia answered weakly. Her tiny hands squeezed her blanket. Marisa, a big girl whose shadow covered other people's when they walked together, couldn't help but think of Alicia as a little doll. She couldn't keep herself from saying, "You look so tiny, girl."

"I am tiny."

This truth made Marisa smolder. How dare Roberto cheat on my little homegirl! How she would love to get him into a headlock and bounce his head off a wall. She had watched enough wrestling on TV to know how to do it.

"My mom says I can't see him anymore."

"My mom would be hecka mad," Marisa said. "And my dad-" She shrugged. She wasn't clear how her dad would view such a tragedy. He was a lot more carefree. But her mom? She pictured her mother at the stove smashing beans into refritos and yelling over the radio that her daughter was headed down the wrong road, blah, blah, blah.

"What are you doing here? How come you're not at school?" Alicia asked.

"Seeing you," Marisa replied. "I just walked right out of school and two miles to get here." She pinched her stomach. "I'm gonna start losing weight."

"You look good."

"¡Mentirosa!" Marisa swiped a light slap on her friend's arm. She repeated how she had bounced down the stairs of second-floor East Hall and walked out of Washington High School during morning break. The security guard had even waved good-bye. That was how much they didn't care.

Alicia placed a hand over her mouth and laughed. "You're mala. Your mom and dad's going to find out."

"So?" But Marisa was worried. Her mom had threatened that if she got in trouble again at school-she had been suspended for a week for fighting over lip gloss she had lent some girl-she was going to send her away to live with one of her aunts. Marisa didn't want to get in trouble again, but the idea of going to a new school appealed to her. She knew that she would miss a few friends, but she could always depend on her cell phone. Each month she was loaded with free minutes.

Alicia's eyes suddenly filled and two lines of tears raced down her cheeks.

Marisa thumbed the salty track making its way down to the left side of Alicia's chin, and she was amazed how cool the tear was. If she were crying, her tears would be as hot as motor oil.

"Do you want me to hit him?" Marisa asked. Her hand was closed into a rock-hard fist.

"Who?" Alicia asked, sounding like a sad owl.

"Roberto!" Roberto was tall but lanky. Marisa imagined that she could lower her shoulder and bulldoze him into the lockers and follow up with a smacking slap to his face. This, too, she had learned from watching wrestling. Who said TV was a waste of time?

"No," Alicia said, then pouted like a fish. "I don't need him."

"You go, girl." Marisa smiled and leaned her face into her friend's shoulder. They hugged and told each other how they couldn't depend on anyone except each other. Marisa's own tears began to roll hot from her eyes. But the girls stopped hugging when Marisa heard a voice behind her. The voice belonged to someone Marisa knew. Her mother!

Busted! Marisa thought as she swiped away the tears from her eyes and sat up.

"Hi, Mrs. Rodriguez," Alicia greeted. "I asked Marisa to come and see me."

Marisa's mother stood with her hands propped on her hips. Her eyes narrowed darkly. She seemed to weigh whether Alicia was telling the truth. She shook her head, jangling her earrings, and made her judgment. "You girls are lying. Marisa's skipping school. You think I was born yesterday?"

Marisa opened her mouth, forging the image of a daughter shocked that a parent-a mother, of all people!-didn't believe her. She raised her hands to her chest as if to say, "You mean me?" She would have stamped her foot dramatically in protest to her mother's verdict, but she was sitting on the edge of the high hospital bed. Her feet didn't touch the floor.

"Don't say anything that I can use against you later," her mother warned, a storm beginning to rage inside her.

Her mother sounded like the police. And to Marisa, she was the police with her own court and punishment.

"It's my fault, Mrs. Rodriguez," Alicia piped up. "I told her to come."

Marisa's mother ignored her as she repeated the lie, obvious because Marisa volunteered a truth: "Nah, I came on my own, Mom. It's my fault."

Copyright 2005 Gary Soto.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Accidental love is a well-written book by Gary Soto. This book is about a teenage girl named Marisa. One day she is at the hospital visiting her friend Alicia, who got into a car accident with her boyfriend, she accidental picks up the wrong phone when she run into Roberto, Alicia¿s boyfriend, and his friend Rene. She gets into a fight with Roberto and Rene tries to break it up. Marisa and Rene both pick up the others phone. When they return each other phone and finally meet, Marisa begin to have feelings that she has never felt before, ¿¿Marisa, pulling her hair behind her ear, scooted a little closer to him. She would later debate with herself what this little gesture had meant. But for now she was enjoying the presence of this boy¿¿ The two begin talking and hanging out together. Marisa even switches school, which is to Alicia¿s displeasure, especially after the fight she got into with Roberto. Will Marisa lose her best friend or have a relationship, with the boy who ¿¿whose bicycle was too big for him and whose eyeglasses were crooked on his cute small face¿? The book is a very easy for teenage girls to relate. It shows the pressure of high school, friends, family, and sometimes boyfriends. He easily incorporates Spanish words into this easy to relate to book. I recommend this book to any teenage girl looking for fun and easy read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hate the world? Marisa does. She is a fourteen year old girl who gets in fights and skips school. Marisa hates her school and fights anyone who looks at her wrong. After beating up her best friend¿s boyfriend, she accidentally picks up the wrong cell phone. She meets up with Rene, the nerdy boy who accidentally took her phone, and gets it back. Normally she would have left immediately and avoided being seen with such a geek, but there was just something about this boy she found intriguing. They began to call each other and see one another as much as possible. Marisa even transferred to his school to get away from all the drugs and violence at her school. Everything is perfect except Rene¿s mom. She is extremely strict and insists that Rene not see Marisa. They continue to see each other behind her back. Rene¿s mom turns Marisa in to the school. Marisa had used her aunt¿s address to get a transfer, and Rene¿s mother informed the school of her lie. Marisa was immediately returned to her old school. Now seeing Rene would be almost impossible. Will they make their love last and if so, how? Accidental Love fell way below my expectations. It was very corny and original. Two opposite people fell in love. Gary Soto did not make this book exciting. It was predictable and boring. The two main characters are only fourteen, and he has them falling head over heels in love, and it just made the book corny. I also did not like how he inserted Spanish words throughout the book. In the back of the book was what all of the words meant, and it was annoying to have to continuously flip to the back of the book. If you like corny love stories then you will enjoy this book, but it is definitely not at the top of my recommendation list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow i read this bok in 5 hours i just could not put it down. I really liked it because of the external conflicts Marisa has with Rene's (her boyfriends) mother. It is a great story about love and how to stand up for what young love is. Rene is a total nerd that just happened to win young Marisas heart and yet Marisa is a total tough girl that would gladly start a fight but it chenges with one Nerd!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book... Have a heavy set, tough, mexican girl fall in love with a nerd was the greatest idea in the history of teen books. I love Gary Roto's books and this one is one of my favorites yet... I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recomend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
horrible bryond words don't waste ur time on this terrible book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly wish i could give this book -5 stars. It was so bad and such a big waste of money. I made an account just so i could right a review on this book. First off, it's just dumb because the main character calls people names like "homeboy" and that is so stupid! no body does that! and it was just so predictably, unrealistic, and like i said DUMB!!! Do NOT, i repeat, Do NOT EVER EVER EVER waste your money on such a pathetic, stupid book. I dont even know how this book could have become published. It is TERRIBLE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good
PopLitClass101 More than 1 year ago
Accidental Love is one of my favorite books now. I love how the author shows the way two people feel about each other through writing. It's one thing to watch a movie and see a connection between two people, but it's a whole different experience reading a novel and just knowing how much two people really love each other and why. I also love the way they met. It definitely shows that the best things happen when you are least expecting them. I liked the change through Rene and Marisa, as a person, throughout the story. Marisa learned that being tough and judgmental all the time doesn't really get you anywhere in life. It's always good to stick up for yourself, but not to always think someone is out to get to you. Rene learned that living with his mother wasn't so healthy and that he would probably end up always doing what she wanted him to do in life. I'm glad he ended up living with his father. I believe that Rene and Marisa brought the best out of each other. Rene helped Marisa be less tough and judgmental towards everyone at school and Marisa helped Rene stick up for himself for a change and stop dressing the way his mom wanted him to. My favorite part of the book was the end. Reading how Rene finally called his dad and did something about his mom was a relief. I was so upset that Marisa had to go back to her old school, because of Rene's mom, but hearing that Rene moved with his dad, closer to Marisa, was great news for me! I absolutely love Marisa and Rene together. Marisa's parents love Rene and so does Marisa. Another great part at the end was when Rene first showed up at Washington High School and Marisa was practically in tears, because she was so happy, and then it started to snow. Throughout the whole story Marisa would talk about snow, here and there, so to see it finally happen, while she was with Rene, the person she loves, made me happy as well. I really enjoyed this novel and will definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone!
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sydney leffler More than 1 year ago
i lllllllllloooooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeedddddddddd it
Franny Applegate More than 1 year ago
This book is stereotypical and dumb. It isnt well written. Gary Soto has had a much better book I would reccommend, Jesse. This book is crappy.
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Monique Reid More than 1 year ago
i really dont read books but when i first saw the title i knew it would be interesting it has a nice twist to it and is easy to read
Ann Smith More than 1 year ago
why isnt there more than a sentence in the summary? that is very lazy and noone should buy this book (i havent read it becaiuse its such laziness)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jasleen Kaur More than 1 year ago
this book is the nicest book in the whole wide world. i live this book and my who,e family read it. this book is a must read book get the copy fast from a library because the book will run out. you will read this book over and over again. have fun with your copy of accidental love.
PENelopeDP More than 1 year ago
How amazing is it to read a story and be able to relate to EVERYTHING the main character is going through? Accidental Love by Gary Soto is an incredibly entertaining book about a fiery young woman who is trying to find her place in the world, as many teens have had to do. Her life is turned unexpectedly round about when she meets a boy - but no ordinary one. He is so different from all the others at her school that she simply HAS to learn more about him, and in learning she discovers that she has grown to love him. Their adventures are inspiring and their triumphs are exhilarating, and the reader will walk alongside Marisa and share her joy, her sadness, her strengths and her weaknesses, and her adoration of this boy whose fate has been tied to her own. "Accidental Love" is a book for any child or young adult. Gary Soto has an incredible understanding of what it's like to be alone in the world, even when surrounded by friends. He also portrayed Marisa and her new love with intense detail, so there was no doubt about either of their characters or emotions or intentions. Their love is better than the love in the fairy tales, because it is real and literal. Marisa and her boyfriend go through hard times, they say stupid things to one another, and yet they do not stop loving each other. Although this is not a mystery book, there is definitely a good deal of apprehension on the part of the reader to get to the end. It's an easy read, the grammar and writing style is quite manageable, and the look into the life of an average teenager that has fallen in love is extraordinary : definitely something to share with the family, and definitely something from which great lessons can be learned.