Everyone seems to have their own opinion on Marlene’s frizzy hair. For Marlene’s mother, it’s that curly hair should be straightened every week at the salon, yanked and prodded by a much-hated stylist. To her family, it’s only remotely manageable and presentable when it’s styled her mother’s way, but even then, it’ll never live up to her cousin’s Diana’s gorgeous, flowing, straight golden locks. And for Marlene’s classmates? Her hair is just something else to make fun of her for.
Marlene just wishes that she didn’t always have to be so careful to keep her hair tame like the whole world seems to want her to—no running, no dancing, and definitely not any attempts to style it her own way. But with the help of her best friend Camilla and her beloved tía Ruby, Marlene begins to realize that her hair is most beautiful when she wears it the way she wants to—and that maybe she can show everyone else just how lovely it can be, too.
Frizzy is absolutely wonderful. The sweet, pithy writing of Claribel A. Ortega (also the author of Witchlings) blends with Rose Bousamra’s beautiful, evocative illustrations to create a moving, lovely graphic novel about the prejudices of those around us and the capacity of each of us to be beautiful. Quirky and relatable, I couldn’t help but read Frizzy in one sitting—I was pulled into Marlene’s story from the first page thanks to her struggles with self-identity and how others perceive her, universal questions that gave the book such depth. Perhaps best of all was the realism of Marlene’s interactions with other characters, particularly her family; ranging from awful to heartwarming, they truly brought the story alive with dimensionality and authenticity. I highly recommend Frizzy to readers ages eight and up, particularly more reluctant readers or those looking for an affirming, realistic story.