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

¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

Title: ¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico
Author: Christine Suggs
Genres: Contemporary, graphic novel
Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Ink
Review Copy: Borrowed
Availability: Available now

Summary: In this bilingual, inventive, and heartfelt debut, graphic novel talent Christine Suggs explores a trip they took to Mexico to visit family, embracing and rebelling against their heritage and finding a sense of belonging.

Sixteen-year-old Christine takes their first solo trip to Mexico to spend a few weeks with their grandparents and tía. At first, Christine struggles to connect with family they don’t yet share a language with. Seeing the places their mom grew up—the school she went to, the café where she had her first date with their father—Christine becomes more and more aware of the generational differences in their family.

Soon Christine settles into life in Mexico, eating pan dulce, drawing what they see, and growing more comfortable with Spanish. But when Mom joins their trip, Christine’s two worlds collide. They feel homesick for Texas, struggle against traditions, and miss being able to speak to their mom without translating. Eventually, through exploring the impacts of colonialism in both Mexico and themselves, they find their place in their family and start to feel comfortable with their mixed identity.

Review: I have really been loving the YA graphic memoirs coming out lately — Messy Roots by Laura Gao comes to mind (review here) — and ¡Ay, Mija! is another wonderful YA graphic memoir.

Creator Christine Suggs chronicles their first time visiting relatives in Mexico by themselves. Along the way, you as the reader to get to know Christine’s teenage worries and struggles as they navigate this particular summer at a crucial time in their life. They explore their mixed race identity, their body image, their queerness, and their relationship to their heritage and speaking with their family.

The bold and colorful art is delightful, and the extra touch of the little cartoon on Christine’s shoulder reminded me of Lizzie McGuire in the best possible way. But what blew me away the most was how the graphic memoir followed through on the title — “My Bilingual Summer in Mexico.” Much of the dialogue is in Spanish with no translation, and I loved that. I have a soft spot for any kind of multilingual storytelling, and this is a fantastic example of that.

This is an easy recommendation — get this delightful, heartfelt graphic memoir now!

Recommendation: Get it now!