cover image ¡Ay, Mija! My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

¡Ay, Mija! My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

Christine Suggs. Little, Brown Ink, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-59196-6 ; $17.99 paper ISBN 978-0-316-59192-8

Sugg’s debut, a warm and good-humored semi-autobiographical graphic novel, follows rising high school junior Suggs, who is Mexican and white, preparing to spend the summer in Mexico City with their maternal grandparents and tía. The creator inserts themself as the narrator, portrayed in miniature alongside their teenage self as they recount their first time traveling from Texas to Mexico without their bilingual mother, who usually acts as the teen’s unofficial translator but is arriving two weeks later due to work. While Suggs’s lack of confidence in their biracial identity, fatness, and Spanish-speaking skills makes them dread their trip, they eventually open up to new experiences. In Mexico, Suggs learns more about the country’s history pre- and post-colonization, and gains a deeper understanding of their mother’s life before she immigrated to the U.S. Joyful moments, such as Abuela digging up a cactus during a hike to take home, lend specificity and counterbalance wrenching moments of pathos, as when the protagonist’s fear of ridicule over their body prompts them to cover up during a sweltering heat wave. Via a limited blue and orange color palette that mimics Mexican Talavera pottery traditions, Suggs tackles themes of sexuality, cultural identity, and body image with understanding and heart. Ages 12–up. Agent: Melissa Edwards, Stonesong Literary. (Apr.)