The First Rule of Punk

Celia C. Pérez. Viking, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-425-29040-8
After María Luisa O’Neill-Morales—Malú for short—and her divorced mother move from Florida to Chicago, the 12-year-old struggles with having her music-loving father so far away and with living up to a mother she has nicknamed SuperMexican. “Admit it, Mom,” Malú says during one of their squabbles. “I’m just your weird, unladylike, sloppy-Spanish-speaking, half-Mexican kid.” Malú takes solace in punk music and in creating handmade zines, which appear throughout; she also begins to make friends, forming a band—the Co-Co’s—that blends punk and Mexican music. (It also reclaims the slur “coconut,” which one of Malú’s classmates calls her.) Pérez’s debut is as exuberant as its heroine, who discovers that there’s real overlap between her Mexican heritage and the punk ethos she so admires. The relationships between children and parents are handled especially well: Malú chafes at her mother’s traditionalism while idolizing her friend Joe’s mother, a cafe owner who represents a merging of Mexican and punk cultures in a way that impresses Malú. A rowdy reminder that people are at their best when they aren’t forced into neat, tidy boxes. Ages 9–12. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 08/22/2017
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