¡Ay, Mija! (A Graphic ­Novel): My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

­Little, Brown. Apr. 2023. 336p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780316591966; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780316591928.
Gr 10 Up–In this autobiographical graphic novel, teenager Chrístine travels from Texas to Mexico City after finishing 10th grade to spend the summer at the home of their maternal grandparents. The grandparents and aunt are loving and welcoming, but Chrístine does not speak Spanish well and struggles to connect with their Mexican heritage. This journey will help empower Christine to improve their Spanish while exploring and articulating how it feels to be a queer, fat, and white Mexican teen. Despite Chrístine’s self-consciousness, they start capturing their experiences through drawing and soon appreciate the delicious Mexican cuisine and the historical buildings attesting to Mexico’s rich history pre- and post-colonization. The text, mainly in English, is interspersed with paragraphs in Spanish driven by Suggs’s Spanish-speaking family. The expressive illustrations, set mainly in shades of blue and brown, convey the plot with one artistic element providing a humorous tone and highlighting the main character’s disposition: a mini-Christine character that reacts to the plot and acts as their conscience. Although Chrístine’s intersectionality is always present, the main character openly discusses it halfway through the story to refer to the profound Roman Catholic background of their grandparents and Chrístine’s fear of coming out to them. Chrístine’s navigation of their identity will resonate with teens who feel insecure and find belonging difficult.
VERDICT An accessible graphic novel for high schoolers seeking a character they can relate to and a safe space to read about mixed heritage and identity.

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