Frizzy by Claribel Ortega and Rose Bousamra Review – A Journey of Self-acceptance



Frizzy is the story of Marlene, a little girl from the Dominican Republic with big curly hair. Every Sunday, her mother takes her to the salon and “teaches” her to curl with a hair dryer. But Marlene secretly hates going to this salon. Especially since her family always compares her to her better-looking cousins. She dreams of one day being able to let her curls fly, so she decides to follow a YouTube tutorial. Images play an important role in setting the tone of the story. The painting of Jesus on the wall of Marlin’s house evokes personal memories, perfect for those who grew up in a Catholic family in the Caribbean. In particular, the humor in The Trial of Jesus adds relevance and levity to the story.

Many of our readers can relate to Marlene’s experience. The pressure to conform to society’s beauty standards is a common theme. The author recalls experiences of confronting beauty expectations, for example, her mother asking for relaxers to lighten her hair. I’m all too familiar with quick suggestions from cosmetology classmates and struggling with curling and curling beasts to achieve a certain look. The story is also about the effects of comparison, particularly about a cousin whose hair “looks better”, which creates a sense of inadequacy. A commendable aspect of the book is its exploration of anti-blackness and how the preference for straight hair is passed down from generation to generation. The story illuminates the social pressures that contribute to these beliefs and adds a thoughtful and educational layer to the story. The book wraps up at the end with a poignant moment recalling the author’s natural hair journey. The character of Marlene’s aunt Tia Ruby adds a nice touch to the story. Her support and guidance in finding the right hair products through trial and error will resonate with many of our readers who want a similar mentor in their hair care journey.

At its core, Frizzy is an empathetic and powerful story that explores the complexities of self-awareness, cultural expectations, and the journey to embrace the beauty of nature. The combination of personal anecdotes, humor and positive determination appeals to people of all ages, especially those going through similar experiences.

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