NetGalley Reviews – June 2022

Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith [5 stars]

Miigweetch to Netgalley and Edelweiss for the DRC.

This is a wholesome collection of tales told from the perspective of a group of four Black female friends living in the Bronx. Stories of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care, will surely resonate with Black readers. The characters seem real and reflect genuine representations of friendship.The artistry in this book is on point! I especially liked the variety of REAL body types represented, complete with stretch marks and other ‘imperfections.’

I recommend this book for anyone interested in #OwnVoices graphic novels or stories centering on the Black femme experiences. Readers who enjoy slice of life stories might also enjoy this book.

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega [4.75 stars]

Miigweetch NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this to review.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel about a young Dominican girl learning to love her curly hair. The book unpacks the tough topic of internalized anti-Blackness in an effective way, without being heavy-handed or saccharine. 

I thought that the language and approach used to talk about racism in the book were appropriate for middle-grade readers. The cast of characters is diverse and the main character is relatable. Small details, such as how the friend of the protagonist lets her “hold” a special knitted cap, made the world believable for me. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a book on Black joy, learning to love yourself, and unpacking inter-generational traumas with a happy ending.

Slip by Marika McCoola [3.5 stars]

Miigweetch to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for an advanced copy of this to review. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love graphic novels that aren’t about superheroes. I was happy to receive a copy of this stand-alone graphic novel since it features art and art education. The story revolves around Jade, and her reaction to the suicide attempt of her best friend Phoebe right before Jade goes away to the art farm summer camp experience of her dreams. 

The way that Jade deals with her emotions surround this difficult event felt real for me and I appreciate the way the author dealt with the topic of teen suicide. As a ceramist myself, I especially enjoyed seeing various aspects of that craft explored, such as the tools and techniques used, as well as why following best practices when creating is important – accidents can happen as Jade discovers when Spoiler her piece explodes in the kiln, destroying the work of other campers in the process.

Reading this book was technically awkward at times because sometimes the text would disappear when I tried to move between panels. This may have just been the result of using the NetGalley app, and hopefully this glitch will be fixed before the final publication. I enjoyed the art style and the sapphic love interest, even if the romance did feel a bit rushed.

I would recommend this book to older middle schoolers and young teens. Inconsistent elements of magical realism means I won’t necessarily be recommending it for older teens.

Belittled Women by Amanda Sellet [3.0 stars]

Miigweetch to NetGalley and HarperCollins Children’s Books for giving me a copy of this book to review.

I was interested in reading this book because I have been a huge fan of the source material since childhood, and recently came across a thread on Twitter that talked about a potentially hidden history of Louisa May Alcott being transgender. Jo March has long been one of my favorite characters in American literature, so I came into this story with high hopes. Despite this, it was not the easy-breezy read I was expecting and the story just didn’t work for me.  

I would recommend this for Y9/Y10 readers who have no prior experience or exposure to “Little Women.” The author does a nice job of crafting parallels between the original tale and this modern re-telling. I liked the quotes from “Little Women” that begin each chapter: I thought that was a great addition and strengthed the relationship between the two stories. The pacing was good and the writing was tight, which I appreciate.

The book is told in the first-person, which is not a POV that I normally enjoy reading, but I do think it works here. However, I never truly connected with the protagonist, which made it hard for me to get invested and continue reading. I just think that I am not the intended audience for this book.

Amalia by Aude Picault [3.0 stars]

Miigweetch to NetGalley and Europe Comics for the DRC.

The art style is simple and pretty; it reminded me of The Adventures of Tin Tin. While the art style is tranquil and relaxing, our protagonist is anything but. Amalia is a mom and wife on the verge of burnout. Her family life – with her husband, Karim; her 4-year-old daughter, Lili; and her 17-year-old stepdaughter, Nora – is nothing but rushing around, screaming, and doors slamming. I feel like many women in their 30s & 40s will be able to relate to this character, even if they do not have children.  The author did a good job of transmitting Nora’s anxiety through the page – I felt super stressed while I was reading this! 

The story is raw, real, and addresses a topic relevant to all: mental health. 

My biggest critique about this book is related to the font used. Although it is beautiful to look at, it is extremely difficult to read. I found it so frustrating that I almost gave up; I would strongly urge a change before the final edition.

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