Wash Day Diaries

Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith. Chronicle, $19.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-79720-545-8

With spare dialogue and lush renditions of self-care rituals, Rowser and Smith paint a loving and intimate portrait of city life for a group of young Black women. The ensemble includes Kimana, a singer who is avoiding a scarily persistent suitor, Malik; Nisha, a photographer torn between two guys and the freedom of her “hoe phase”; Davene, who is drawn in blue-and-purple hued panels to reflect a bout of depression; and Cookie, whose Dominican grandmother attempts to make amends for her past homophobia as her granddaughter does her hair. Each story centers a different friend in their clique and is painted in a different rich color palette. Smith’s lithe character design and eye for detail pair nicely with Rowser’s economic storytelling, and Rowser expertly utilizes the group text as a sort of Greek chorus. The arc culminates at Kimana’s performance, where the women band together to stave off both an aggressive Malik and Davene’s looming blues, their colorful personalities coming together in a rainbow. The motif of wash day— as the women wash their own hair and others’, go to the salon, and get braids—invites the reader into the rhythm of their lives, with welcome inclusivity of queer romance, as well as non romantic story lines. This subtle but heartwarming homage to friendship, feminism, and reconciliation sings. (June)
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