Jennifer's Reviews > The First Rule of Punk

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
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it was amazing
bookshelves: award-winners, mg-realistic-fiction, mg-multicultural

This was a Pura Bel Pre honor book, and one of only two true middle grade books to receive any honors out of all of this year's YMA's, and it was just the thing I needed to read after reading so of the other YA winners and honorees that were good, but so heavy and serious! Not that this story is fluff or frivolous by any means, but it is definitely lighter, energetic, fun, and positive, and I loved it!

Twelve-year old Maria Luisa, who prefers to be called Malu, is about to leave Florida, the only home she's known, to move to Chicago with her mother for two years, and she is not happy about it at all. In addition to having to leave behind her friends and father (her parents amicably divorced when she was very little) and having to adapt to a new neighborhood and being the "new kid", Malu struggles with her identity and mixed heritage. She looks like her Mexican mother, but her personality is much more like her father, enjoying expressing themselves through punk music and style (Malu also expresses herself by making 'zines, several of which are contained in the book and add to it). Malu feels like she is a disappointment to her mother, who always seems to be trying to make her "a good little senorita".

But, Malu soon makes a few good friends and finds a place where she feels comfortable, and gets the support and acceptance from her friend Joe's mother that she doesn't think she can get from her own. The four friends form a band, and plan to play a punk version of a tradtional Mexican song at the school's talent show, only to find out the principal has banned them from participating for being too different. Faced with the disappointing news, will Malu and her friends give up, or stand up against discrimination?

This is a great story with wonderful characters that are well-developed, and moves along at a good pace. It has elements of typical tween angst that anyone can relate to, like friction with parents, frustration with school dress codes, dealing with "mean girls", and having to start over and make new friends, and a little civil disobedience. But it also deals with the specific issue of cultural heritage, and what that means, particularly to the increasing number of children of mixed heritage. I like that the story shows you don't have to choose one over the other, and you don't have to suppress your own thoughts, feelings, dreams, and sense of expression in order to appreciate and respect your cultural heritage. You just have to be you.

I think most kids could find something to relate to in the story, but it could be especially relateable and helpful for those who are also going through big transitions and having to start over, and those who also feel their parents may have unfair expectations of them based on cultural tradition or those of mixed heritage who feel caught in the middle.
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Reading Progress

February 18, 2018 – Started Reading
February 18, 2018 – Shelved
February 18, 2018 – Shelved as: award-winners
February 18, 2018 – Shelved as: mg-realistic-fiction
February 18, 2018 – Shelved as: mg-multicultural
February 18, 2018 – Finished Reading

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