Graphic Novel Review: ¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico by Christine Suggs

¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico by Christine Suggs. Little, Brown and Company, 2023. 9780316591966. 328pp. Includes an Epilogue full of photos of Suggs and her family and Chiquito “the most spoiled cat in the world.”

This is a graphic memoir of Suggs’ visit to Mexico to see her grandparents (her Mamá and Papá) and tia, Mary, in Mexico during the summer after tenth grade. Her basic Spanish language skills are a source of stress, as is the fact that she looks a bit different from her family (her father is a white American dude her mom met while working at the US Embassy there as a translator). Even when it’s hard for her to follow conversations (she struggles for a while, then improves) there’s so much love (except from Chiquito the cat sometimes) that I was sure everything was going to be okay. Suggs also worries about her weight a bit, though the joy of food (especially bread!) and talking about food and eating throughout is very upbeat.

Worth noting: Suggs’ tia Paty, who went to the US to help take care of her, can’t return to Mexico to visit her parents because of her immigration status. Suggs spends some time thinking about this and the fact that her grandparents can’t afford to visit the US, plus remembers lots of moments from past visits and her childhood.

This is a beautiful book about a teen who always wanted to be an artist and a family story that will appeal to lots of older elementary and middle school students.


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