Mexican-American author Pedro Martín writes a graphic memoir with his latest creation, Mexikid. Largely, it features a 1970s setting and recounts Pedro’s memories growing up. As a Mexican his name is Pedro, but as an American, he is Peter. The dual names are all part of being a Mexikid, according to Martín whose feet are planted on American soil but whose heart belongs to both sides of the border and whose head is trying to fill in the gaps in his own heritage story.
A creative, barrel-shaped boy, Pedro likes comic books and collects action figures. These characteristics often make him the target of others’ teasing. And teasing happens fairly frequently in his large family of eight siblings.
With this graphic memoir, the reader can picture the family living in California. During the strawberry season, they work the fields, but this year, the family will pile into a Winnebago recreational vehicle and make the epic trip to Pegueros, Mexico. Here they will retrieve Pedro’s “old and stern” abuelito. Soon, Pedro realizes that while he faults abuelito for not knowing him, that blame is a two-way street. “I never really bothered to get to know his details” (138).
As the memoir continues, Pedro takes the opportunity to see his grandfather more accurately and in turn works to be seen by him. Pedro hears the stories of desperation, poverty, loss, and death. He interviews his grandfather and learns of his mule train adventures and his role as a protector. From these stories, Pedro makes a connection not only with grandfather’s artistic ability but by taking pride in being the grandson of a “Mexican-Jedi Holy Rage-Monster.”
Characteristic of good memoir, Martín goes to the places where the nerves and skin remember. He calls memories out to play and locates landmark moments in his life. Many of these strategies honor ethnicity, culture, language, religion, landscapes, and family. Just as Marguerite in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings learns to overcome her cage of silence, self-doubt, and insecurity, Pedro finds his grito, his reason to shout.
- Posted by Donna