Cover Image: Frizzy


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Member Reviews

When I saw the early look of this book I was thrilled Caribel A Ortega was putting this out in the world and when I noticed Rose Bousamra was the illustrator I was even more excited, since Gender Queer was one of my favorite recent graphic novels and one of my top reads this year. 
📖 This is the whole package. Beautiful content and incredible illustrations and just the kind of book I wish existed when I was growing up.
💇For all the individuals out there that feel their hair didn’t fit “the mold” this is for you. As a curly girl, it took me years to learn to love my curls, and a more gentle way of styling my hair.  
😣In high school and beyond I painstakingly straightened my naturally curly hair and it wasn’t until even just the last handful of years I learned that I didn’t have to, and in fact it really isn’t even good for my hair to torment it that way on a daily basis. It has been liberating to me to embrace this part of me and my hair has never been happier. 
👵 This book touches on the struggle to embrace your natural beauty, when so often straight hair is deemed “more professional” and those beliefs and thought patterns are passed down from generation to generation. My grandmother and aunts spent every Friday in the salon. My mom hated it, and chose not to continue that tradition, but still somehow I struggled as well from peer pressure and the desire to look like the others. 
💕 I love that we now see all types of hair and curl patterns in media and magazines and love even more that this book was written. I can’t wait to pass it along to a curly girl so they too can see how fierce they can be rocking their natural curls.

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A beautiful and sweet story with an important message. I love this title!! From healing generational trauma to genuine hair care advice, this graphic novel has it all!!

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I'm not crying, I'm not crying, I'm not crying....
Claribel Ortega has done it again! Marlene's story is one of self-acceptance and family healing. Marlene hates her weekly trip to the salon with her mother, where her hair gets straightened. She doesn't like the pain, she doesn't like the look, but it makes her mom happy. One day, though, Marlene has had enough, so she and her friend Cami make a plan to change her hair and change her life! Marlene's hair doesn't quite follow the plan, starting a chain reaction that ends in the worst day ever. It will take cool Tía Ruby to talk Marlene through her family history, her hair history, and the best way to take care of her curls.
I love the family dynamics in this story, first and foremost. A family of amazing Dominican women supporting one another, preaching against anti-blackess, and ending with love and self-acceptance? Incredible. I also love the friendship between Cami and Marlene, which is a safe place for Marlene and a delight to see in a middle grade novel. So often friend drama is the source of the problem, so it's beautiful to see it be a balm and a support system instead! Marlene's thoughts and feelings about her family, her bullies, and her desire to feel like herself will all resonate with middle grade readers. The illustrations and colors are also so, so beautiful! An amazing read that I will be recommending to every graphic novel lover!

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Frizzy is a middle grade graphic novel by Claribel A. Ortega and Rose Bousamra that is currently scheduled for release on October 18 2022. Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and "growing up." That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have "presentable", "good hair". But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn't understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby—she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.

Frizzy is a wonderful graphic novel that had me fighting back tears more than once. While I have never been in Marlene's position regarding something so much a part of me as my hair, I have felt othered and looked down on by those that should have been my safe place. I could understand how she felt when her family made comments about being more lady like and trying harder to fit in. I think just about everyone can think of a time, particularly in our childhood and teen years, when we felt like the world was against us and everything is unfair, and every reader is likely to be able to relate to the story a bit. I was glad to learn a bit more about how hard it is to take proper care of curly hair, and how it feels to have something that is a part of you have so many connotations and perceptions by just about everyone. I knew about fights about school and work dress codes in regards to hair styles, and I understood on some level about some of the thoughts and feelings surrounding hair, but I was glad to get such a better understanding of it. I think that the story and art are paired perfectly and tell a highly engaging story. I hope some readers see themselves in this story and have the bravery and support to do what they feel best about in regards to their own self, the willingness to try new things, and the ability to find and have the courage talk to a trusted adult and friend about all the things going on in their heads and hearts.

Frizzy is a great graphic novel about loving yourself, and being brave enough to make the changes you want.

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Es un libro que trata, principalmente, sobre el cabello de la protagonista, y aunque si bien esto puede leerse muy superficial, la verdad es que esconde mucho más. Crecemos oyendo a los adultos decirnos que la apariencia no es lo más importante, lo que importa es lo de dentro (personalidad, carácter, metas, gustos, etc), pero aun así, suelen ser ellos los que a su vez nos sumergen en un mundo lleno de estereotipos de "belleza", con reglas de etiqueta, ideales universales de qué es estar "bien vestido" o "verse bien", que muy fácilmente pueden confundir a los niños, hasta el punto de crear inseguridades sobre su apariencia física.

Algo como eso es lo que le pasa a Marlene, la protagonista. Ella con su hermoso pelo rizado se ve obligada a alisarlo cada domingo para poder encajar de alguna manera en la sociedad (su familia, sus compañeros de curso, incluso su madre). Ella ha crecido escuchando que su pelo se ve "desordenado" cuando está al natural y que eso no es bello. La comparan con su prima mayor, quien tiene un sedoso y largo pelo rubio "perfecto", y esto obviamente no provoca más que Marlene comience a dudar de su propio valor, y su imagen.

A lo largo de la historia se nos presentan los conflictos internos de esta pequeña niña que no entiende por qué debe cambiar la forma natural de su cabello para que la sociedad la acepte, y poco a poco nos guía en su viaje de dudas, conflictos, aprendizaje y aceptación personal.

Ustedes necesitan conocer a Marlene y a su tía, créanme que todos queremos en nuestras vidas a un personaje como esa tía. Alguien que te enseñe a valorarte tal cual eres, sin que la opinión de los demás pueda invalidar tu propia versión de ti. El amor propio es importante, y así lo relata esta novela gráfica. A mí me encantó. Full recomendada.

Por ahora solo está en inglés, pero por favor léanlo.

PD: Un pequeño storytime: Si bien yo no tengo tanto drama con mi pelo (aunque lo cuido bien poco y suelo ir chascona por la vida), nunca me han hecho bullying por cómo se ve. Me pongo en los zapatos de la prota Marlene, y claro que debe sentirse muy mal que te digan que tienes "mal cabello" siendo que este es distinto para cada persona, y luce bien en su forma. Los estereotipos a veces dañan más de lo esperado. Aun así, igualmente hay días en que me dan ganas de haber nacido con el cabello liso y pienso "para quienes lo tienen liso todo debe ser más sencillos", o igualmente hay ocasiones en que desearía tener los rulos más marcados y saber cuidarlos -y peinarlos- mejor, porque se desarman solos y se ven unas pocas ondas sin sentido. Pero creo que de alguna forma es parte de la lucha interna que tenemos cada uno de nosotros con nuestro cabello -y nuestra imagen en general-. Debemos aprender a querernos, a mejorar si así lo consideramos necesario, pero siempre considerando nuestra opinión al respecto por sobre la de quienes puedan hablar de ello

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Frizzy is an immediate feast for the eyes as Bousamra’s art brings Ortega’s world to life. Their pastel color palette offers a vibrant and immersive reading experience. They give the spotlight to Marlene and other characters, but they take just as much care in the little details throughout. Though this is the first time readers meet Marlene, everything about Bousamra’s art just fits the character perfectly. The art and Ortega’s words also work in a harmonious tandem, both juxtaposing and holding similarities to one another. For readers who prefer or need more visuals over words, this graphic novel is perfect to keep them hooked.

Like their previous books, Ortega brilliantly breaks down the important messaging of the story in a way that young readers will understand without being made to feel dumb. They aptly and deeply examine the effects of discrimination, hair politics, and anti-Blackness. Between their words and Bousamra’s art, readers gain an understanding of why hair is such a big deal (in positive and negative ways). Ortega gives words to feelings that younger readers may not have yet. They also highlight the aforementioned topics in a way that allows non-Black and brown readers to receive more awareness about something they may or may not typically think about.

While the root of Marlene’s struggles lie in her hair, Ortega also emphasizes how it ties into one’s general self-esteem. Because of the stigma Marlene experiences around her hair, she believes she’s not good enough, period. She isn’t just going on a hair love journey, she’s also on a self-love journey. Moreover, readers see how Marlene’s mother passes on generations of beliefs surrounding hair onto Marlene; they both have a lot to unlearn. The story is very much about Marlene but providing context on her mother adds another thoughtful and important layer the conversation. Bousamra’s art further supports this as they show readers how Marlene reacts to negative comments and bullying, placing Marlene’s emotions on full display.

From page 1, Marlene’s story was intensely relatable for me. Like her, I have an abundance of thick curls that took YEARS to even remotely like. I remember the rude comments and desperately straightening my hair every week or relying on harmful relaxers that destroyed my hair, just so it would look the way society deemed was nice and acceptable. Even now, I still have a tenuous relationship with my hair. It was tough to see Marlene go through those same struggles knowing firsthand how detrimental it can be. But it was also healing to go on that journey with her, to watch her learn how to embrace and love her natural curls and to see others affirm that.

Ortega and Bousamra are an incredible team that have brought something really special with Frizzy. Together they gift readers a story brimming with understanding and compassion that adds to an important facet of representation. They’re a mirror reflecting only good things back at readers who pick up this graphic novel. It’s emotional and charming and jubilant, and reading it feels like being wrapped in a warm, safe hug you don’t ever want to break. This is the kind of book I needed as a kid, and I’m so thrilled that young readers like Marlene have it now.

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Frizzy, a graphic novel about Marlene, girl struggling with the problematic social norms around race and hair, is a beautifully told and much needed story. The art is vibrant and fun. Marlene, as the protagonist, incredibly loveable and relatable. We need stories that celebrate individuality and self-acceptance. Frizzy does that. I can't wait to see what Claribel A. Ortega does next.

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Marlene has curly hair, which is, in the eyes of her family, not presentable. Her mother takes her to the salon every weekend to get her hair done. No more curls for the teenager, but perfect straight hair. The thing is, Marlene hates it. She strongly dislikes the hours lost to get her hair done. She would love so much to be able to be herself and keep her natural curls. She doesn’t understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. So one day enough is enough. Marlene decides to say no and voices what she really wants.

This graphic novel will totally talk to all women with curly hair, whatever your age. I was so touched by the young heroine that fights her family to be herself and be able to keep her curls. This book story brought back childhood memories of the fights to brush my hair. Yes, I have curly hair. Very curly. Like sheep curly. The fights were not about straightening my hair like young Marlene, but to cut. Of course all my classmates had long straight hair, so I wanted long hair too ! All that to say that Frizzy is a great graphic novel that talked to me a lot.

Marlene is a sweet girl that loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. She has a very hard time to accept herself and to think that she is good enough, as everybody keeps telling her how not pretty, not good her hair are. The most difficult part is how she witnesses her family admiring her perfectly blond cousin, who has beautiful, presentable and good straight hair.

The art is absolutely great. And there is a chicken in the story, which is a plus. Frizzy is about diversity, self love and about acceptance. This middle grade graphic novel is a strong testimony about the power to embrace yourself and accept our differences.

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Lovely, quick read graphic novel which celebrates being yourself!!
Marlene has been going to the salon with her mother every Sunday for as long as she can remember, getting her long curls straightened out. But part of her wants to embrace her natural tresses. Will she be able to carve out her own identity without offending her family?

The cutest illustrations and simple text come together to make a positive read with a great message!

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this title in exchange for my feedback.

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Frizzy is a middle-grade graphic novel about Marlene, a young girl struggling to accept her natural hair because of false western beauty standards passed down through generations.

This truly hurt my heart and soul. The pain and suffering caused by racist beliefs passed on in this family made me most uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe that Marlene’s whole family would tell her how terrible her natural hair is and that she isn’t worth as much as when she straightens it. I just wanted to hold Marlene tight and tell her that she is perfect.

But I think this exactly makes this story so powerful. It made me understand that hate can hurt multiple generations because it is so hard to break free from it. We must break these patterns and cherish everyone for who they are, no matter how they look. We need to pass on kindness and love. Only then will we make everyone feel worthy, because they are.

This is definitely a hard read to get through by yourself, especially as a middle grader, and should probably be read with help from an adult – family, friend or teacher – to start a conversation in a safe environment.

This is Frizzy: a powerful and important conversation starter about growing up and feeling comfortable and happy with yourself.

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Thank you Netgalley and First Second Books for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

First off the artwork was absolutely stunning in this and the story really tugged at the heartstrings. There were a few times I teared up at how Marlene was treated by family and classmates. So many Black and brown people are told at a young age that kinks are "bad hair" and straight hair is "good hair" when all hair is good hair. The scenes with her tia showing her how to do her hair was so beautiful. Definitely a five star read if I was able to finish in one sitting!

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Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega was a really great graphic novel with amazing messages about self love and acceptance. A solid read with beautiful graphics and a nice story about growing into yourself.

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Read on August 17th, 2022. Written on October 17th, 2022.

One word: amazing.

This graphic novel is cute, sweet, educational, inclusive, fantastic and precisely what kids should read, especially little girls who feel the same way as Marlene.

Her journey from "suffering" on the salon every weekend, to embracing her beautiful curls is incredibly thrilling to read. Her acceptance to the fact that she can look a certain way and still love how she looks, without the stares and the opinions of others, is so important and, undoubtedly, a great lesson for everyone, not just children.

I have no doubt this should be read by kids or read by parents to kids or everything in between, what matters is that the beautiful message in this book is shared and embraced.

Claribel Ortega did something absolutely extraordinary with this, and I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to read it.

Signing off,

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A masterpiece. Made me cry numerous times. Has such a great message about self-love, family, and being yourself. Beautifully drawn and written, this graphic novel is highly recommended for anyone!

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I really enjoyed this book!

CW; mentions of parental loss, bullying, anti-Blackness, grief

This book follows a young girl’s journey on acceptance of her hair, and interweaves stories of dealing with grief, dealing with school bullies, and dealing with conflicting ideas of what is best for her hair from her mom. With the help of her cool aunt and her best friend, she is able to learn self-love and change the mind of her mom.

I really loved the art style and the storyline. I loved the purpose of this book and how so many complex topics were tackled. This is a beautiful graphic novel that I know is going to change lives.

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Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega is a Middle-Grade graphic novel about a Dominican American girl Marlene and her never-ending struggles with her frizzy hair.

Ortega has addressed important issues teens face - self-esteem, self-love, the impact of parental approval, the concept of beauty and outer appearance, and acceptance of one’s roots.

The chapter titles are cute and apt to the story that follows. I loved the font, text size, and vocabulary. They are perfect for the genre and target audience.

Rose Bousamra’s vibrant illustrations depict a diverse cast and bring them to life in an endearing fashion.
Frizzy is a realistic graphic novel and should be read by children and adults. It carries subtle profound messages that need to be spread far and wide.

I received a free copy of this book from First Second Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wordsopedia Rating 4.6/5

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I was going to attempt to review this personal graphic novel but honestly, I can't because what this book means to me and other folks like me is priceless.

I kept a Twitter thread while I read this book because my entire childhood was just flashing back. Strong reactions to words, the way some characters were treated, the thought process on our hair that I was raised with by those around me, and how hard that is to undo, to unlearn, to love yourself.

I share all my thoughts and experiences in the Twitter thread here.

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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. I loved "Frizzy". This middle grade graphic novel deals with good hair/bad hair myth that persists in certain communities when it's all just hair and how to take care of it. The scenes in the salon that are both bonding and repelling mother and daughter speaks so much for so little dialogue. This was an exceptional graphic novel of familial love and acceptance.

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Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was a powerful, beautiful novel for ages 8-12. I think it could be really beneficial for all age groups though. Marlene is an interesting character that has a lot of spunk and tenacity She was a joy to read. I think this would be perfect in all library collections.

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This was absolutely perfect. I loved the art style, the color choices, the story and the characters. Everything was beautiful. Marlene is an amazing main character and I feel like this is a book all ages will be able to enjoy. I found it to be quite an emotional story and it focuses on lots of important messages. I cried quite a bit while reading it. Marlene was just very easy to relate too and love, and the ending was very heart-warming.

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