Book Review: Pardalita by Joana Estrela, Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Translator)
A beautiful slice-of-life story that is This One Summer meets Ursula K. Le Guin’s Very Far Away from Anywhere Else, told in flashbacks
16-year-old Raquel lives in a small town in Portugal, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Her parents are divorced and
she’s just been suspended for cursing out a school aide asking about her father’s new marriage. She has two best friends, Luísa and Fred, but wants
something more. Then, from afar, she sees Pardalita, a senior and a gifted artist who’s moving to Lisbon to study in the fall. The two girls get to know
each other while working on a play. And Raquel falls in love.
Using a gorgeous blend of prose poems, illustrations, and graphic novel format, author and artist Joana Estrela captures the feeling of being a teenager in a way that feels gentle, joyful, and real.
You want the summary, go up there and make sure to read it. I want to talk about how this book feels.
Can I just say that this book is affecting and leave it at that? Probably not. Can I tell you it beautifully captures the delicate yearning that marks so much of adolescence? And will you know what I mean by that? Because it just does. I finished this short, quiet book and felt a weird melancholy nostalgia for those uniquely teenage feelings of discovering your identity and your place and your people. It’s not entirely accurate to call this a graphic novel. It’s one of those great hybrid novels that does so much. There’s drawings, short entries, poems, and sometimes page after page of nothing but illustrations. It’s quiet. It yearns. It’s sincere. It’s one of those books that will strike the right reader in just the right way, the kind of book you can tuck into your heart and feel better about life. It’s resonate and sad and hopeful and full of both loneliness and connection. I thought it was just lovely. Help this one find its readers!
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Levine Querido
Publication date: 04/18/2023
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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