Review: Frontera

frontera cover

Title: Frontera
Creators: Julio Anta, Jacoby Salcedo (Illustrator)
Genres: Comics
Pages: 240
Publisher: HarperAlley
Review copy: Library
Availability: Available now!

Summary: Mateo makes the dangerous journey back home to the United States through the Sonoran Desert with the help of a new friend, a ghost named Guillermo in a supernatural borderland odyssey by debut graphic novelists Julio Anta and Jacoby Salcedo.

As long as he remembers to stay smart and keep his eyes open, Mateo knows that he can survive the trek across the Sonoran Desert that will take him from Mexico to the United States. That is until he’s caught by the Border Patrol only moments after sneaking across the fence in the dead of night. Escaping their clutches comes at a price and, lost in the desert without a guide or water, Mateo is ill-prepared for the unforgiving heat that is sure to arrive come sunrise. With the odds stacked against him, his one chance at survival may be putting his trust in something, or rather someone, that he isn’t even sure exists. If you’d asked him if ghosts were real before he found himself face-to-face with one, Mateo wouldn’t have even considered it. But now, confronted with the nearly undeniable presence of Guillermo, he’s having second thoughts.

Having spent his afterlife guiding migrants to safety, Guillermo knows things about the Sonoran Desert far beyond what could be explained by a mere hallucination. But even as Mateo forms an uneasy partnership with Guillermo, survival is still uncertain. The Sonoran Desert, with its hostile temperatures and inhabitants, is teeming with danger as the Border Patrol and rogue militias prowl its deadly terrain. As his journey stretches on, Mateo will have to decide exactly what and who he’s willing to sacrifice to find home.

Review: I’ve had Frontera on my to-be-read pile for quite some time, and I was excited to pick it up recently and check it out. This graphic novel follows Mateo, a teen boy who journeys through the Sonoran Desert from Mexico to get to the United States, in a bid to return to his old life. Along the way, he gains the guidance and aid of a ghost named Guillermo, whose story unfolds alongside Mateo’s.

First of all, the art in this graphic novel is gorgeous and evocative. I’d say that it’s worth checking out for the illustrations alone, which do a great job of telling the story that is taking place. It really does feel like we’re living in an exciting time for illustration and graphic novels.

The art isn’t the only thing that stands out in this graphic novel. Mateo’s story is compelling and incredibly relevant, given the status of Dreamers in America right now. While the pacing and the execution of the story occasionally left something to be desired, overall it was an impactful and moving read. Guillermo’s story, in particular, was a high note of this graphic novel.

If you’re looking for your next graphic novel read, Frontera is it! Definitely check it out.

Recommendation: Get it soon!