Summary: Doodles from the Boogie Down
Doodles from the Boogie Down is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about young Steph and her life in New York City in the early 2000s. Steph is finishing eighth grade in a Catholic middle school, and she and her friends are applying to high school.
Steph is not great at Math or Science and prefers art instead, so she’s thrilled when her art teacher encourages her to apply to LaGuardia, an arts high school. Unfortunately, her strict Dominican mom doesn’t think art is a profitable career pursuit, so Steph’s plan is to only tell her mom about plans when she’s gotten in. On top of that she’s struggling with understanding one of her friends who seems to like a group of girls who bully Steph. Can Steph find her way?
I loved the illustrations in this book and I thought it was a nice slice-of-life story with a gentle plot. The idea of applying to high schools doesn’t seem as popular now, so it was interesting to see the process through Steph’s eyes. I also loved the throwback to the 2000s, with tidbits like J.LO’s Waiting for Tonight release (which I loved as a pre-teen).
Like most strict parents, Steph’s mom is overprotective because she loves her daughter. She also worries about her being bullied like she was when she was younger and she believes private schools are safer than public. But it takes a ton of growth (and some lying) for Steph to show her mom that art and art school are worth it.
I also enjoyed seeing Steph’s big Dominican family and the way religion plays into the culture. Finally, this is one of those books with NYC as a main character. Steph lives in the Bronx and spends a bit of time with her art teacher in Manhattan, so we get a comic tour of the city, which I loved.