"In 2010 Great Plains released Toronto author Nelsa Roberto's entertaining first young-adult novel, Illegally Blonde. Now, in The Break (Great Plains, 204 pages, $15 paperback), Roberto has written a more serious novel on a more serious subject: a teen who refuses to accept that her beloved grandmother is suffering from dementia. It is also a novel about guilt and the devastating effects of regret.

Abby Lambert is furious with her mother, who has accepted a position with Doctors Without Borders for the very week of spring break, when Abby has planned to join a ski trip. Abby is left to look after her grandmother, whom she soon realizes may be having some severe problems. Her Nonna also wants to visit the Sunny Haven home, which Abby avoids at all costs.

Abby's life becomes more complicated when she gets to know a boy whom she has always thought of as arrogant and unfriendly -- until she sees a sensitive side of him as he works with seniors at the nursing home.

Abby must face unwanted truths and make important decisions. This is a realistic novel with a dash of romance that teens will find appealing."
Winnipeg Free Press

CM Magazine -July 2012
"The tension between Abby and her absent mother is powerful and will interest teen readers who have similar relationships with their parents. Woven into the story is the development of an unlikely relationship between Abby and Kyle, which is tentative and careful. As they both navigate the changes in their family life, Abby and Kyle begin to realize the importance of shared experiences and the strong bond that can create.

Teen readers who enjoy real life stories about changing relationships and family dynamics will gobble this one up. The Break will be especially poignant for readers who have very strong relationships with their grandparents, or whose grandparents live with them. Teens struggling with change or loss would also benefit from reading this story. The Break is a strong addition to any public or school library collection where stories about real life and families circulate well."
Recommended (Reviewed by Amy Dawley).

This was a good YA novel. It addresses being a responsible youth, and Alzheimer's in a thoughtful way. With just enough conflict and romance to keep young teens engaged, this one is a library YA collection must.
Reviewed by: ydenomy | Jul 24, 2012

"This is a gem of a book from a small Canadian publisher that deserves a lot of exposure. Teens who have aloof and self absorbed parents, are struggling with friendships or have a family member with dementia will find this a very gripping read."
Reviewed by: John Clarke (Goodreads Feb. 2014)

Laina Has Too Much Spare Time
"I was surprised by this one. You guys know I'm kind of hard to please when it comes to contemporary books, but this one worked for me. A whole lot of it was very cute and in general it was solid. I liked that so much of the book focused on Abby's relationship with her grandmother, especially, but also some with her mother...The Break is a nice, quick read. There were some funny moments, some cute moments, some moments that made me sniffly... it was enjoyable and my favourite out of the three books I received to review."
Reviewed by: Laina (August 25, 2014)


"Roberto's firm grasp of dialogue and understanding of teenage feelings makes this a good addition to young people's fiction."
Winnipeg Free Press

"The dialogue and Lucy’s interior self-talk is absolutely excellent. Because Roberto has captured perfectly the vocabulary, tone and emotions of the characters, the story flies by with the reader eagerly turning pages. From the rigid upper middle class kitchen of Joel’s parents to the cramped home of Lucy’s loving relatives, the settings not only reflect the characters’ values but also evoke a palpable love of Portuguese culture. Exceptional descriptions of the land and village in Portugal are woven seamlessly into the plot.
The themes of controlling one’s impulsivity and supporting one’s family ahead of one’s immediate desires will not be lost on the intended reader."
Joan Marshall, CM Magazine

"It's refreshing to see a Portuguese-Canadian protagonist in YA fiction and Lucy do Amaral is an appealing newcomer … author Nelsa Roberto has taken a true story from the news headlines (about Portuguese-Canadians deported when their citizenship was called into question) and skillfully crafted an enjoyable and well-written tale. Lucy do Amaral is a welcome addition to the YA scene."
Gillian O'Reilly Canadian Children's Book Centre News (Recommended Read Summer 2010)

"Illegally Blonde has a mixture of mystery, humour and romance that most middle teens, especially girls, will enjoy. They will empathize with Lucy’s devastation at being torn away from everything she knows and loves. The suspense is intense at times, and there are some excellent cliffhangers at the ends of chapters. I liked the title with its double meaning of discovering your roots and watching them grow back."
Donna Gamache
prairiefire Review of Books Vol.3 2010