The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez

Published by Viking

Summary:  Maria Luisa (Malu for short) is devastated when her mom announces that she’s taken a two-year teaching job in Chicago.  This means Malu not only has to start 7th grade in a new school, but has to move away from her cool dad who lets her hang out at his record store, listening to her beloved punk rock music.  Her more conservative mom (Malu calls her SuperMexican) keeps imploring Malu to dress and act more like “una senorita”.  Malu gets off to a tough start her first day of school, violating the dress code and getting on the wrong side of popular mean girl Selena, who snarkily calls Malu a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside).  But Malu is nothing if not plucky, and being true to herself eventually wins her friends and leads to the formation of her own punk band.  They turn Selena’s insult on its head by calling themselves the Co-Co’s.  When the band is rejected from the talent show for being too loud, Malu has to decide just how punk she wants to be, as she and her friends plot artistic revenge on the school authorities.  336 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Malu is a winning narrator, interspersing her story with her original zines that give more details about her life, Mexican history, and punk rock.  She is true to herself, while at the same time admitting her fears and insecurities as she navigates a bumpy road toward better relationships with her mom and her newfound friends.

Cons:  It seemed unrealistic that a girl who had never played a musical instrument in her life became the band’s drummer after a single lesson.

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