Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Published by Viking on August 22nd 2017
Source: Provided by Publisher
Amazon, Barnes & Noble , The Book Depository
From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Perez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one's watching.
There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school--you can't fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School's queen bee, violates the school's dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She'll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!
Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.
The First Rule of Punk is a fun middle grade book about a Mexican-American girl who whose mother has relocated them to Chicago for a new job. I really liked a lot of things about Malú from the beginning, because it was completely relatable to me to see her struggling with her identity. She doesn’t want to be the perfect Mexican señorita her mother wants her to be, but instead wants to be punk like her dad.
Malú’s struggles really highlight the unrealistic expectations that are placed upon children of color. Malú is called a “coco” (brown on the outside, white on the inside), by her classmate Selena, the perfect example of a Mexican child. Unlike Selena, Malú doesn’t speak Spanish perfectly, she doesn’t like cilantro, doesn’t enjoy traditional Mexican dancing; basically doesn’t do things that are “expected” from a Mexican child. But does this make Malú any less Mexican?
Of course, there’s more to the story than this. This book isn’t only about identity and culture, but about friendship and finding your place. We see Malú’s character develop throughout the story while she makes new friends and meets more Mexican people and role models who help her understand her struggles.
I like to think of us as more like patchwork quilts. Some pieces are prettier than others. Some pieces match and some don’t. But if you remove a square, you’re just left with an incomplete quilt, and who wants that? All our pieces are equally important if they make us whole. Even the weird ones.
I think that this book really shows how representation is important, as we see how much Malú starts to reevaluate her life once she meets more people who are actually like her and she sees all the possibilities of what she can be.
While being middle grade, this book never feels to me like it’s too “juvenile” or “childish”; yes, the main character is 12 years old, but the story is written in such a way that it’s difficult not to get sucked in. Malú’s narrative voice is honest and a little bit sarcastic, which made a lot of situations both relatable and completely hilarious. I definitely recommend this book to anyone, because it’s fun and refreshing while also dealing with serious issues such as culture and being yourself.
Malú in the book loves to make zines (if you wan’t to see some of those featured in the book, click here). These zines are about anything, but they mostly do a great job at showcasing who she is and what she loves. Since I loved the book so much, I thought I’d try doing a mini-zine of my own. I didn’t do as well as Malú, but hey, I tried! 😛
Remember to add The First Rule of Punk to your TBR!
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