cover image Brownstone


Samuel Teer, illus. by Mar Julia. Versify, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-358-39475-4; $18.99 paper ISBN 978-0-3583-9474-7

Almost-15-year-old Almudena meets her father for the first time in this affecting 1995-set graphic novel exploration of identity and family. When Almudena’s white mother accepts a principal role in a dance tour, Almudena must stay with her father while he renovates a brownstone in his predominantly Latinx neighborhood. Upon learning that he’s Guatemalan—and not Mexican like she assumed—Almudena’s perception of her heritage comes unglued, revealing her own internal biases (“Aren’t Mexico and Guatemala basically the same place?”). While working on building repairs with her father, the pair face various challenges, such as overcoming language barriers—he speaks only Spanish and Almudena knows only English, a dynamic that’s sometimes rendered in speech bubbles reading “(Spanish, probably).” Almudena also experiences disappointment at her father’s romantic relationship with a neighbor, which shatters fantasies about her parents reuniting. Via Almudena’s resourceful and unfettered perspective, Teer (Veda) interrogates characters’ preconceived notions surrounding one another’s ethnicity and sexuality, clearing a path for greater openness and vulnerability throughout the community, which Almudena begins to see as an extension of her own family unit. Fluid illustrations by Julia (Who Was the Voice of the People?), saturated in rich earth tones, expressively distinguish each character’s personality and breathe life into the vibrant metropolitan neighborhood. This energetic and emotionally grounded story hits the mark, culminating in a satisfyingly transformative tale. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ben Grange, JABberwocky Literary. (June)