Review of ¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico
by Christine Suggs; illus. by the author
Middle School, High School    Little, Brown    336 pp.
4/23    9780316591966    $24.99
Paper ed.  9780316591928    $17.99
e-book ed.  9780316591942    $9.99

This engaging graphic memoir depicts Suggs’s formative experiences visiting family members in Mexico City and their rancho in the state of Querétaro. At home in Texas, Crís, who has a Mexican mother and a white American father, is assumed by others to be white and non-Latine. But with Mexican family, Crís (who now uses they/them pronouns) perceives being othered because of their limited Spanish and a skin tone that is lighter than that of relatives. During the trip, Crís develops a more mature understanding of their culture, their family traditions, and their mom’s sacrifices. The narrative poignantly highlights the journey of self-discovery that so many young people experience—often in silence—growing up in the U.S. as the children of mixed families. Suggs’s reflections are multilayered, addressing an awareness of their blended culture, concerns about weight, and processing of their emergent queer identity. The narrative is mostly in English, with untranslated Spanish interspersed; the book might be most fully appreciated by readers with basic English and Spanish reading abilities, but the graphic format helps with accessibility. Illustrations in a limited, muted palette richly portray the sights, sounds, and scents of Crís’s Mexico, along with the warmth they feel for immediate and extended family. An epilogue with photos explains this narrative’s source as “a combination of events from two solo trips to Mexico.”

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholas A. Brown

Honduran-American librarian and arts producer Nicholas A. Brown is acting co-CEO and chief operating officer for communication and outreach at the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, an adjunct faculty in library and information science at The Catholic University of America, a District of Columbia Library Association past president, an ALA Rainbow Round table member, and a former Library of Congress music specialist.

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