Pérez, Celia C. First Rule of Punk, The. Fiction. Viking/Penguin/Random, 08/2017. 310 [+14]pp. $16.99. 978-0-425-29040-8. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-7.
Twelve-year-old Mexican American, zine-creating María Luisa—who goes by Malú—must move from Florida to Chicago for two years when her mom gets a temporary job there, and she feels sad that she must leave behind her father (her parents are divorced) and his music store. Always having felt more of a connection to her father’s punk music influence than her mother’s Mexican heritage, Malú feels a bit out of touch with the primarily Latinx neighborhood and school in which she now finds herself, but when the makeshift band that Malú forms with some schoolmates doesn’t get chosen to be in the school talent show because the school wants it to reflect tradition, Malú and the Cocos (the band’s name) decide to have their own Alterna-Fiesta Talent Show and play a punked-up version of the Mexican classic “Cielito Lindo.” The singularly-focused and uncluttered narrative is briskly paced and thoroughly engaging, featuring Malú’s likeable voice which often sounds as if one is reading excerpts directly from her journal. By the end, Malú has learned the value of her heritage by interacting with her new neighbors and classmates and is able to integrate both sides/ identities of her parents when she begins to connect with her Mexican heritage through its music. Reproductions of Malú’s multi-page zines provide interludes between select chapters and serve to provide further explanation on topics such as the slur “coconut,” Calaveras, and dyeing one’s hair.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library