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  • Marianna D Rooks

Christine Suggs’s ¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

¡Ay, Mija!: My Bilingual Summer in Mexico by Christine Suggs follows a trip Suggs took the summer before eleventh grade. Saying goodbye to their Mom, Dad, and tía Paty in East Texas, they spend the summer with their Mamá, Papá, and tía Mary in Mexico.



As they face the challenges posed by linguistic barriers and homesickness, Christine settles into their summer in Mexico. As weeks go by, Christine gradually embraces their mixed identity, and discovers a renewed sense of self-acceptance and belonging along the way. Through ¡Ay, Mija!, Suggs offers an ingenious story of reconnection with memories, family, identity, and culture alike.


For Christine, embracing their mixed identity means embracing Mexico itself. ¡Ay, Mija!, then, is like a love letter to Mexico—from its geography to its history to its traditions. Setting aside their individual story at times, Suggs takes time to identify various states in Mexico, like México and Querétaro. As Christine travels around these states visiting landmarks like the Museo Nacional de Antropología and Chapultepec, Suggs also showcases a wealth of Mexican history. They even include vivid, mouthwatering descriptions of the significance and history of pan dulce in Mexico. Beyond telling their story, Suggs aims to leave their reader with a little souvenir—an image, a taste, or even a detail of the things they love. They have a boundless love for their culture, and a remarkable wish to share it with the world, and they do so with grace.

Beyond telling their story, Suggs aims to leave their reader with a little souvenir—an image, a taste, or even a detail of the things they love. They have a boundless love for their culture, and a remarkable wish to share it with the world, and they do so with grace.

Another important part of Suggs’ artistry is their thoughtful application of language. Although Christine mentally translates copious words from Spanish to English throughout the comic, few of these translations are directly granted to the reader. Fortunately, Christine’s thoughts, emotions, and translations are often personified by an adorable imaginary character who accompanies Christine. In doing so, Suggs beautifully captures the navigation of language barriers.



Like sixteen-year-old Christine, a non-fluent Spanish speaker likely won’t understand the comic word-for-word, but just enough to participate and follow along. Indeed, it may feel strange to read a comic they can’t fully understand. Strange…but nice.


In addition, Suggs dissects many aspects of their adolescence, ranging from the interpersonal to the deeply personal. During their trip, Christine confronts growing questions about their sexual orientation, ethnic identity, and body image.



At the same time, they’re wrestling with complex familial relationships, and love. In these moments, Suggs’ voice really shines through. Such questions are likely deeply familiar to readers, so it’s comforting to hear these delicate complexities and innermost thoughts shared by someone else. As Suggs unravels their life, they extend an invitation into their world that is uniquely personal, and a story that is wonderfully open and honest.


With its colorful depictions of Mexico, sharp use of language, and sincere narratives, ¡Ay, Mija! is a true joy.


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