Review of Twin Cities

Twin Cities
by Jose Pimienta; illus. by the author
Middle School    RH Graphic/Random    256 pp.    g
7/22    978-0-593-18063-1    $20.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-18064-8    $23.99
Paper ed.  978-0-593-18062-4    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-18065-5    $8.99

Grounded in Pimienta’s experience growing up in Mexico across the border from the United States, this graphic novel explores the relationship between young teenage twins as they traverse physical, personal, and cultural borders. Teresa and Fernando are recent sixth-grade graduates in Mexicali, Mexico. With his sister’s decision to attend school north of the border, change is coming, and Fernando isn’t pleased. In the fall, both siblings experience their share of ups and downs (skillfully depicted through a range of cartooning techniques, such as alternating panels and mirrored layouts). Teresa struggles with the commute and the English curriculum but cultivates a strong friend group. Fernando is less interested in school but develops a friendship with the slightly older and opinionated Alex. Confrontations over shared space, autonomy, and heritage come to a head after Teresa discovers a stash of marijuana that Fernando was given by Alex. The dramatic conclusion sees the siblings reach a newfound level of closeness through open and honest communication. Penciled and inked by hand, the illustrations feature a thin, organic line and a muted, full-color palette. A consistent three-tier panel structure creates a visual rhythm that is periodically punctuated by splash pages and spreads during moments of heightened emotion. Back matter includes an author’s note, a hand-drawn map, and rationale regarding the use of language throughout the book.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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