Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra

Published by First Second

Summary:  Marlene’s curly hair has been the bane of her existence for the last several years, as her mother insists on the two of them making weekly visits to the salon to have their hair straightened.  Not only is this physically painful, but it makes Marlene feel like her natural look isn’t beautiful.  After a few disastrous attempts to style her hair on her own, Marlene gets into trouble and is sent to her tía Ruby for a weekend of gardening.  Ruby has fully embraced her Dominican heritage, including her hair, and she shows Marlene how to manage her curls and make them beautiful.  Marlene is nervous to show her new look to her mom, but it serves as a catalyst to a much-needed conversation that brings them closer together.  224 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  Marlene is a character many tweens will relate to, torn between wanting to fit in, wanting to please a parent, and wanting to be herself.  This graphic novel also has a great message about the Eurocentric standard of beauty and embracing beauty from all cultures.  

Cons:  I always enjoy a good subplot or two, but this story stuck pretty closely to the main hair-related plot.

2 thoughts on “Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra

  1. My review of the book. 5/5 Happy Tears Were Shed

    Reading about Marlene’s story was really eye-opening to how anti black beauty standards in America really are. If your hair isn’t iron straight you need to “fix it”. And with how girls and women of color, especially Black women have thier natural hair disparaged, ridiculed and mocked. If they aren’t conforming to the eurocentric, racist, fatphobic, pedophilic, white supremacist, abileist beauty standards, then they face issues of being rejected and outcasted, or worse. Though women of color and especially Black women deserve to be praised and complimented for thier natural beautiful hair, just as all women are.

    The Story is heartwarming as we see Marlene embrace her natural hair and watch as she embraces herself, she grows more confident and happy and others start to accept her too. It was a heartwarming story to see Marlene and her mom become happier with accepting and embracing themselves and each other.

    The cover is cute and eye catching. The colors in the graphic novel are really nice and the art is very cute and the characters faces and emotions are really good. The book is perfect for all ages, though more for girls of color or girls with similair hair to Marlene’s, who may have or do struggle with thier hair the way Marlene and her mom were.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s