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Gosh! Best of 2022

Ortega and Bousamra have created a story that deftly navigates issues of self-image, culture, race and standards of beauty in this wonderful one-off. Marlene struggles with negativity around her natural curls, passed down to her by her mother who drags her to the salon every week for straightening in order to get that "good hair". But as she encounters others who are rocking their curls - an internet influencer and her beloved aunt - she discovers a whole new world of hair. I know it sounds fairly thin, but everything about this book is handled so well - even the background to her mother's attitudes - that it manages to rise above cliches. A book that teaches those with natural curls to be proud, and those without to understand different standards of beauty. 

Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tia Ruby, and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and 'growing up.' That means straightening her hair every weekend so she can have 'presentable,' 'good hair.' But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn't understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby, she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.