Hot Comb

Drawn & Quarterly. Jun. 2019. 184p. ISBN 9781770463486. pap. $21.95. Rated: Teen+. short stories
DEBUT In the titular piece that opens this carefully crafted and deeply felt short story collection, an 11-year-old girl eager to convince her mother to allow her to get a perm in order to stop her friends from thinking she’s “too white” learns a painful lesson about the difficulty of living up to the expectations of others. In another tale, the sole black member of a softball team suffers trauma that follows her into adulthood after her teammates become obsessed with how her hair differs from their own. Author/artist Flowers employs a dazzling array of illustration and storytelling techniques across the eight stories here, which all somehow revolve around black women’s hair but manage to encompass an enormous range of experiences—coming of age, coping with grief, classism, family drama, friendship, dealing with stereotypes and racism at home and abroad—with heart, humor, and an unflinching determination to deliver truth free from sentimentality.
VERDICT Readers are sure to find these stories moving and illuminating, and may be shocked to discover, given the talent on display, that this is Flower’s first book

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