Suyapa “Sue” Gutiérrez wants to spend her summer drawing comics and hanging out with her friends at sleepaway camp.
Instead, Sue’s parents whish her away to visit family in Honduras with older sister Carmen and younger sister Ester. But unlike sleepaway camp, which would only be a few weeks, this trip is going to last all summer. To make matters worse their relatives live in the country where it’s so rural there is no phone, no internet, and not even any cable.
Just as Sue grudgingly makes her peace with all of that, she finds out that her mother has planned an entire quinceañera for Sue. In secret! With over 100 guests invited! And a pink princess theme!
Sue likes black a lot more than she’ll ever like pink, she doesn’t want to learn how to dance, and she definitely doesn’t want to wear a frilly pink gown.
As Sue learns more about her family history, new perspective from her artist grandmother might lead Sue to a compromise about the dreaded quinceañera if a sudden loss in the family doesn’t eclipse the entire party in Miss Quinces (2022) by Kat Fajardo.
Miss Quinces is Fajardo’s debut graphic novel and hopefully the first of many. The story starts in New York before Sue’s summer plans are upended and is primarily set in Honduras–speech bubbles present English dialog in black text and Spanish dialog (translated into English) in Blue.
Bright, full color illustrations work well with Fajardo’s graphic style that focuses on her characters. Sue’s story is firmly grounded in Latinx culture and the customs surrounding quinceañeras but Sue’s struggles to balance her Honduran heritage with her own American sensibilities will ring true to any reader trying to straddle two worlds.
Along the way, both Sue and readers learn more about quinceañera traditions while also seeing ways that Sue (and her family) are able to adapt in order to make sure Sue’s quinceañera is one she’d actually want to attend. The story does include the death of Sue’s grandmother which, while obviously sad, is handled well.
An author’s note at the end includes some thoughts from Fajardo on her own quinceañera.
Miss Quinces is an optimistic coming-of-age story from an author to watch. Recommended.
Possible Pairings: Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, Isla to Island by Alexa Castellanos, Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani, Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley, Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega and Rose Bousamra, For the Love of Laxmi by Bijal Shah