I just read a super cute graphic novel called “Miss Quinces” by Kat Fajardo. I saw this book on Instagram on a fellow teacher’s post about middle grade graphic novel recommendations and so of course I put it on my wishlist on Amazon and a kind soul bought it for me. I didn’t know what to expect with it but I usually like to read things before my students read it so that I can know if to recommend something to them and to know if it should be on my bookshelf. I went into this book pretty much blindly.
Rising star Kat Fajardo’s debut middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who would rather do anything other than celebrate her quinceañera! A funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about navigating the expectations of family and cultural tradition. Sue just wants to spend the summer reading and making comics at sleepaway camp with her friends, but instead she gets stuck going to Honduras to visit relatives with her parents and two sisters. They live way out in the country, which means no texting, no cable, and no Internet! The trip takes a turn for the worse when Sue’s mother announces that they’ll be having a surprise quinceañera for Sue, which is the last thing she wants. She can’t imagine wearing a big, floofy, colorful dress! What is Sue going to do? And how will she survive all this quality time with her rambunctious family?
I will not lie, this was super cute! Like as I was reading it, I was like maybe it’s not a book for me but I stuck with it and by the end I actually enjoyed it. It was really quick paced but like it felt a bit rushed to me towards the end. Something shifts in the story (I wont say what happened) and it was like the next thing I knew, the book was coming to an end. I expected a little bit more emotion. Something happens to one of the family members but it seemed like the family just moved on and I was like “wait what?! Noo!”
I loved the representation in it. Like not everyone looked the same but they were all family. There were many different shades ranging from Afro-Latinx to a more fairer skinned Latinx person, which is the case for a lot of Latinx families. It was so refreshing to see the little afro puffs on some of the cousins. Also, this story gave me a deeper insight to Quinces.
Another thing I loved was the mental health aspect of it: Anxiety. The way the author handled the subject was so simple to understand and I appreciated it because at that age (like 11-14), it can be scary and confusing and to have someone explain it so plainly was really nice. For example, Suyapa was having an anxiety attack and her big sister Carmen helped her through it. She gave her a technique to use to help her calm herself and even told her that she too dealt with anxiety as well! Kids/teens need to know it’s natural to feel anxious about things from time to time.
Suyapa reminded me a little of myself because she kept putting herself down and I tend to do that a lot! We are the hardest on ourselves and its already bad enough that society can make us feel like we’re behind or that we’re lacking so we need to remember to be kind to ourselves!
I loved the connection Suyapa had with her wela (abuela/grandmother). It was touching and sweet and she just accepted her for who she was, in contrast to her mother. They shared a special connection and that is something I personally try to have with my own grandmother. The book also taught me to appreciate what I have in life and to stop looking around at what other people have going on. Its easy to get caught up and compare yourself to others. It’s easy to feel down on yourself because you feel FOMO but if you just stop and actually focus on where you are and the actual experiences you have going on in your life, you’ll have a much deeper appreciation for your life, especially if you spend time with your loved ones. People will not be around forever so it’s important to love on the ones you have in your life.
I gave it a 3.5/5 stars. It’s super cute and highly recommend it!
Title: Miss Quinces
Author: Kat Fajardo
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Genre: Middle Grade; Graphic Novel
Buy it here: Amazon and Bookshop.org
What’s a middle grade you’ve read recently?