Beware: the front cover boasts a blurb line courtesy of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong—”Cristy C. Road is a badass.” This six-chapter graphic novela takes a curious look back at the often painful crossroads of the US-born Latino bicultural experience and the awkward gelling of artistic and sexual identity. Cristy C. Road’s Miami childhood, commandeered by powerful matriarchs and the always looming Cuban/Latino machismo that breeds paranoia and obsessive self-scrutiny, comes to life with stinging realism, despite the, at times, over-the-top, exaggerated imagery she composes. Adolescent transformation, not fitting in, always finding yourself thinking the opposite of the majority–an interior life navigated by the fear of being different steers the story forward.
The illustrations ring true to the punk rock esthetic of improvised DIY comic book style, which perfectly accompany the often embittered, confused, yet always intelligent commentary/text…and the narrator finally arrives at a crossroads where she can retain her “Cubanness” and her punk rock identity with careful balance and negotiation. The public school characters instantly dredged up our own such memories. “Spit and Passion” will resonate intimately with anyone who finds (or has found) themselves on the tense cultural divide between Latino tradition and underground values, and for those who do not find (or have not found) themselves on this fault-line, “Spit and Passion” will clearly illustrate the secret and silent world many turn to when they fear that the outside world will not accept them for who they really are
Most charming for us was the epiphanic moment the narrator experiences after listening to various punk rock cassettes that a schoolmate lends her. After suffering from one to the next and not finding the right “fit,” the miraculous happens when she plays finally plays Green Day for the first time. Her interior and exterior worlds finally merge and although this may sound too easy an explanation for the story’s rising action, Road handles this transformation with clever honesty, humor and skill. Music has affected changes in all of our lives, and especially during high school and adolescence, when we begin that frightening metamorphosis into “adulthood” and all the inherent compromises that comes with it.
And then there are those of us who keep dreaming, who keep fighting.
Please support these #LatinoLit bookstores before you buy anywhere else:
La Casa Azul Bookstore, New York, NY: http://www.lacasaazulbookstore.com
Tía Chucha Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA: http://www.tiachucha.com
Resistencia Bookstore, Austin, TX: http://www.resistenciabooks.com
Casa Ramírez, Houston, TX: 241 W 19th St – (713) 880-2420
Librería Barco de Papel, Queens, NY: http://libreriabarcodepapelny.com
Girón Books, Chicago, IL: http://www.gironbooks.com
Librotraficante Underground Library locations in AZ, NM and TX: http://www.librotraficante.com/index.php/underground-library/locations