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.