Hot Comb

Drawn & Quarterly. Jun. 2019. 184p. pap. $21.95. ISBN 9781770463486.
Gr 9 Up–This rich collection of comics brilliantly explores the ways that Black women and girls use hair care to console, construct, and criticize themselves and one another. “Hot Comb” features a tween girl with natural hair who begs her mother for a perm in an effort to fit in with her new classmates, but her new hairdo only results in a different set of classmates making fun of her. In “Big Ma,” the titular character relays the trials of motherhood as her daughter roller sets her hair. Her granddaughter learns that there are some things hair care can’t fix. A baseball player’s experience on an all-white team leads to a harmful coping mechanism in “Fieldwork Follies.” These characters use hair care as a vehicle to heal old wounds and sometimes inflict new ones. Hair care also serves as a way to cover up the pain of living in an unequal and unjust system. The way one’s hair is styled becomes a currency that can be used to purchase status. The Black women and girls in these tales struggle to have their natural beauty recognized, with mixed results.
VERDICT This graphic novel examines how hairstyles affect the lives of Black women and girls, and how perception of black hair often shapes the way African American women and girls see their own beauty. Ideal for most public and school libraries.

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