I’ve just finished the graphic novel ” Wash Day Diaries” and I actually found out about it on Instagram but I’m not sure from who’s profile but I saw it and I thought it was super cute. Since it’s a graphic novel, I thought it would be great for my library but man was I wrong! As I read it, I found out that it’s an Adult Contemporary book! While it wasn’t what I was quite expecting when I bought the book, I was surprised with what I read. How surprised was I? Read on to find out!
Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends–Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie–through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx. The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere of setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other. Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice of life mini comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser’s own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full color version of this original comic–which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx–as the book’s first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters. In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story. At times touching, quiet, triumphant, and laugh out loud funny, the stories of Wash Day Diaries pay a loving tribute to Black joy and the resilience of Black women.
This was actually really cute and it made me smile. I love the dedication. I originally thought I could put this in my classroom library but NOPE but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. It’s fantastic. It’s like a sisterhood type thing. Again I had a goofy smile.
I identified the most with Davene. She was a dark skinned character who had depression and it felt like her story hit close to home because like I said, she was depression and she would cancel on things because she didn’t want to go out in the world but stay home and cry, which I totally get. Her story also showed a what not to say when someone opens up to you about his or her feelings. Davene was telling her friend, Cookie, about all that she was feeling and how she wanted to take medications to help her cope with her symptoms and that she was seeing a therapist. What does she say in response? “`I feel you, but look on the bright side…you have your health, a roof over your head, and friends and family who really love you!” then she proceeded to tell her to carry a crystal around and it will heal her. Excuse me, what? I literally rolled my eyes at that.
Cookie’s story dealt with her grandmother with whom she had a rocky relationship with. She was visiting her at a nursing home and washed her hair. I was a bit confused because with their dialogue, I wasn’t sure if they actually were speaking out loud or not but it just seemed like Cookie has been holding on to some painful memories and were thinking of things she truly wanted to tell her grandmother. But then again, I’m not sure if it was things she wanted to say or things she actually said to her. I won’t spoil her story but it felt really bittersweet. I thought it would allude to her being an Afro-Latina and her grandmother’s angst against Afro-Latinidad but nope.
Nisha’s story annoyed me the most. As someone who believes in love and and who was raised a certain way, her story made me shake my head and roll my eyes. I’m not the type to sleep around and glorify it and I felt like this graphic novel did that. However, this is quite realistic. I remember hearing stories like this during my college years from being around my cousin’s friends so this type of thing wasn’t foreign to me. I’m sorry but having the choice between having a steady relationship or sleeping around, I’d chose the relationship. It just seems like a toxic love behavior.
Kim’s story I honestly didn’t really see coming with the way her’s “ended”. It was heartwarming for sure but I guess I didn’t really expect things to turn the way it did compared to how it started. I thought it was just a normal argument between boyfriend and girlfriend but clearly by towards the end of the novel, it was not! I’m trying not to spoil it but all I can say was it was one of the definitions of sisterhood. The chapter was called “Ride or Die” and it was perfect and then how Cookie took a different approach to Davene’s need to go home and be alone and she understood but she showed her how she was not in this all alone.
I gave this a 3.5/5 stars. I highly recommend this for real. Even though I gave it a little over a three, I still really enjoyed it.
Title: Wash Day Diaries
Authors: Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Buy it here: Amazon and Bookshop.org
Have you read any graphic novels you’ve enjoyed? Or maybe didn’t enjoy?