Summary: Big Apple Diaries
Big Apple Diaries is Alyssa Bermudez’s graphic memoir detailing her life experiences in New York City between the 7th and 8th grades. Her middle school years also coincide with the attack on 9/11 and the book documents the impact on her and her circle. Prior to that, though, Alyssa is an average tween who attends a Catholic co-ed school, likes doodling, and has a crush on a schoolmate named Alejandro. Her parents are also divorced, so she spends time between each of their apartments in New York.
I like graphic novels and this is an excellent one. Alyssa’s art is lovely and Alyssa is a relatable character with many middle school mishaps — from wrecking her eyebrows to figuring out crushes. She also has nice-enough friends and a warm relationship with both of her parents.
I enjoyed the realistic Catholic school scenes and seeing Alyssa try to balance schoolwork and perform well on tests — something many kids struggle with. She also tries to get more independence from her folks and navigates around the city with her father.
The book climaxes with the news of the 9/11 attack and Alyssa is naturally panicked because her father works at the World Trade Center. There’s a nice mix of tension and reflection that makes this story an ode to 9/11.
Overall: Big Apple Diaries
Big Apple Diaries is a relatable and enjoyable coming-of-age graphic memoir. Managing crushes, schoolwork, and a living in two homes after her parents divorce, young Alyssa is also actively doodling/journaling — a skill she will continue to use. This is a much-needed personal account of 9/11 that will appeal to a younger audience. I would recommend this one to kids ages 11 and up.