Saturday, November 12, 2022

Cartoon Saturday- Frizzy

Ortega, Claribel. Frizzy
October 18th 2022 by First Second
E ARC provided by Netgalley

In this graphic novel, we meet Marlene, whose least favorite thing is to go to the salon once a week with her mother in order to "tame" her curly hair. This involves setting it on rollers and sitting under a dryer until it is straight. Of course, if Marlene goes out in the weather or sweats, her hair reverts to its naturally curly and "frizzy" nature. Her mother, who has "good" hair doesn't like to spend the extra money going back to the salon, so she is often angry with Marlene for ruining her hair. This is especially evident when the two attend a cousin's Quinceanera. Marlene dances and enjoys herself, but gets sweaty in the process, and her mother is not happy with how she looks in the family pictures. After some trouble at school, Marlene complains to her mother that straight hair or braids are not making her happy, and some information about her mother's own relationship with her hair, as well as the family history, comes out. Marlene spends a weekend with her Tía Ruby learning how to care for her curly hair properly and feeling good about her choice.
Strengths: Marlene's struggles with her mother's expectations will ring true with many middle grade readers who might have skirmishes with their own parents about completely different issues. ("Don't put your hand in your pockets. Why is your hair so flat?" is my mother's voice in my head every day.) Marlene also struggles in school with people who don't understand her background, and is also at odds with the sometimes toxic values embraced by some of her family. It's good then, to see Tía Ruby, who is more comfortable in her own skin, and who takes Marlene under her wing. The best part of the book are the detailed instructions on how to care for curly hair. I've been trying to not blow dry my own hair and let it's natural curl come through, and it's not easy, especially since I balk at leave in conditioner and microfiber towels and just want the speed of blow drying! The cover is great, and I think a lot of my readers will see themselves in Marlene's picture. 
Weaknesses: For readers not familiar with Afro-Latin culture, it would have been good to have a little more background information. 
What I really think: This will be popular with fans of graphic novels with cultural connections, like Christmas' Swim Team, Wang's Stargazing, as well as readers who are fond of learning about Latine and Black culture. 

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