Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega & Rose Bousamra


Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2022


Marlene just wants to be herself and have fun, but all mother wants is for her to behave and keep her curls from going wild. This means a weekly trip to the salon to achieve what her family calls “good hair.” With the help of her Tía Ruby, Marlene will learn that all hair is good, and how to embrace hers.

Star Divider


Frizzy is the type of story that will pull at readers’ hearts. It follows Marlene as she strives to be accepted by her family, but is always made to feel less-than her cousin who is perfect and has “good hair.” Even Marlene’s well-meaning mother places pressure on her to present herself as “professional” and “grown-up” by straightening her hair every week through a torturous appointment at the salon. Marlene’s journey to self-love is sure to move and inspire readers.

Reading Frizzy was honestly quite difficult, and I found myself tearing up at times over how Marlene’s family treats her. Though they say they love her, they constantly compare her to her cousin with straight, blonde hair, acting like Marlene’s natural curls are akin to a moral failing. Worse, whenever Marlene tries to speak up to defend herself or to explain how she feels, she is punished for being rude. Like many adults, her family feels that grown-ups can say anything they like to children–no matter how hurtful–and that children must never say anything back. This behavior was particularly difficult to see from Marlene’s mother, whom Marlene notes used to wear her own hair curly, but now has bought into the idea that only straight hair is beautiful.

The book, however, treats Marlene’s mother with as much sensitivity and kindness as it does Marlene. Tía Ruby explains to Marlene how she and her sister were also brought up with the harmful idea of “good hair,” and how that has affected Marlene’s mother, and led her to perpetuate the idea with her own daughter. With Tía Ruby’s help, Marlene is able not only to learn how to care for and style her curly hair, but also is able to rebuild her relationship with her mother. The story is a real tearjerker!

Frizzy is a must-read for fans of middle grade graphic novels. It is written with sensitivity and insight. And, though it is sometimes hard to read, it ends with a hopeful message that things can change and all hair is beautiful.

5 stars

9 thoughts on “Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega & Rose Bousamra

  1. aquavenatus says:

    I’m so glad there are more Children’s, Middle Grade/Tween, and YA/Teen books about different hair types. This is a conversation that is still ongoing amongst kids and their parents. Excellent job with the review!


  2. Yasmine @ YassReads says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Being a curly myself and struggling with my hair (& comparing myself to everyone with straight hair), I’m so glad there’s a book about this. I’ll have to check it out!


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