I will start with a controversial statement. I am not always a fan of the drawn natural hair look. For me, it does not “translate” well to the page. I feel something is lost from the “real look” verses the “page look.” However, in Frizzy Rose Bousamra really pulled it off. Marlene (our heroine) and her natural look is amazingly done. And Claribel A. Ortega’s story is equally wonderful.
Now, I am not a Dominican middle school girl who has the same self-esteem issues s Marlene, but I can totally relate to Marlene’s issues. I looked different from my classmates (I was, and still am, overweight). And teasing happened not only from classmates, but “well intentioned” comments from family. I related to her “everyone can say to me what they want, but I can’t stand up for myself.” I could and can relate to how I “proper young lady” should act. And I relate to the trying to step out of a comfort zone that is actually not all that comfortable. And not to mention, I can relate to the mishaps and trial and errors of life.
When Marlene starts to question why her family tells her it is on the inside that counts but turn around and start talking about the outside looks, and especially how “good hair” and “bad hair” looks, she starts to question if she is beautiful and “good enough.” And the bullies at school do not help. Who does help is her best friend, Camila, and her cool Tia Ruby. This allows her to find out that beautiful is who you are. The theme of coming to terms with yourself and self-esteem issues is not new, but the characters are. And as I said, relatable to most girls ages 10 and up. But of course, we adults can relate too.
And not only does Marlene look fantastic, but the rest of the illustrations also do, too. They pop off the page, they are cozy, the tell the story as well as the text. They are their own character and support the story perfectly. One must read them as much as the text to get the full picture of our heroine. Boursamra knew their subject, and they made it with a whole lot of love.