cover image Pardalita


Joana Estrela, trans. from the Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Levine Querido, $21.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64614-255-2; $16.99 paper ISBN 978-1-64614-256-9

Told via interwoven slice-of-life comics and intimate-feeling prose poems oscillating between past and present, Estrela (My Own Way) recounts one teenager’s struggles defining herself amid a period of rapid change. Sixteen-year-old Portugal native Raquel is unsure of what she wants for her future until she encounters senior schoolmate Pardalita, an artist. Raquel finds herself inexorably drawn to Pardalita and, as their friendship develops, Raquel begins to see her own sexuality in a new light, straining her relationship with new boyfriend, Miguel, before he eventually breaks up with her. Somber flashbacks to Raquel’s childhood detail formative experiences with her divorced parents (“Every other weekend I’m with my dad./ ...this annoyed him, because he/ wanted to go out and I wrecked his plans”). Poems speaking directly to Pardalita (“I tried to sit as far away/ from you as possible.../ Not the best plan”), rendered in Raquel’s yearning voice, cultivate an earnest blossoming romance that feels as if it was pulled from someone’s private journal. Estrela uses a bold, inky line to depict both cozy moments bursting with warm detail and dynamic scenes that boast energy and youthfulness. Through a fledgling queer romance, the creator presents a story of change, connection, and transformation. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)