Almudena has always wondered about the dad she never met.

Now, with her white mother headed on a once-in-a-lifetime trip without her, she’s left alone with her Guatemalan father for an entire summer. Xavier seems happy to see her, but he expects her to live in (and help fix up) his old, broken-down brownstone. And all along, she must navigate the language barrier of his rapid-fire Spanish—which she doesn’t speak.

As Almudena tries to adjust to this new reality, she gets to know the residents of Xavier’s Latin American neighborhood. Each member of the community has their own joys and heartbreaks as well as their own strong opinions on how this young Latina should talk, dress, and behave. Some can’t understand why she doesn’t know where she comes from. Others think she’s “not brown enough” to fit in.

But time is running out for Almudena and Xavier to get to know each other, and the key to their connection may ultimately lie in bringing all these different elements together. Fixing a broken building is one thing, but turning these stubborn individuals into a found family might take more than this one summer.

Editor review

1 review
A Beautiful Coming of Age Story
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Brownstone is a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel full of heart and a resonating story of finding where you belong. Following the main character Almudena, readers watch her journey over the Summer of meeting her dad for the first time. She is a whirlwind of emotions as she comes to grips with getting to know him along with the language barrier as she doesn’t know Spanish. What awaits her is a Summer full of new surprises, found family, and becoming one with her identity.

This was such a beautiful graphic novel, inside and out. It took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions in the best way. I smiled, laughed, and even cried as the story struck a deep chord within me. I loved how the illustrations spoke for themselves even with the dialogue as readers get to meet the beloved residents of the neighborhood and their colorful personalities. Though they struggle with gentrification and an ever-changing neighborhood they still have immense love for each other and the place they call home. Watching them come together in times of need was utterly heartwarming. Especially when they accept Almudena with open arms and give her the support she needs to thrive in this new environment.

Once I started to read this graphic novel I didn’t want to leave its world. I loved the setting of the Summer season making it a perfect read for this time of the year. I enjoyed learning about all of the characters and appreciated that each one got their time to shine (as well as spotlighting their backstories). Though Almudena is hesitant at first to open up she shows so much growth by the end of the novel. She learns more about her Guatemalan background and has a greater appreciation for her culture.

This graphic novel teaches us that there is no one way to “fit in” when it comes to our culture, neighborhood, identity, and family. The most important thing is having an open mind to acceptance and taking the time to learn from each other.

I highly recommend this graphic novel about family, summer shenanigans, and identity. This Summer vacation tale is full of heart, and I commend the writer and illustrator for bringing us this wonderful story!
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