Differences make us stronger: A review of ¡¡Manu!! 

Kelly Fernández
October 19, 2021
Ages 8-12

Manu and Josefina have been best friends since their first day at La Academia de Santa Dominga—a magical boarding school for girls. Manu is the most powerful witchling the school has ever seen. But her affinity for pranks gets her into troublesome situations. Everyone sees Manu as a terror, except Josefina and Mother Dolores. That changes when a prank goes terribly wrong. Josefina is incredibly upset and wishes for the Saints to take away Manu’s magic. The wish comes true! So, Manu resorts to extreme measures. She uses black magic to restore her abilities. Will using such a dangerous spell change Manu forever?  

¡¡Manu!! is a heartwarming graphic novel about what it means to be a true friend and being there for them no matter the circumstance. When consequences of the black magic cause Manu to attack the school, Josefina is convinced that there is something wrong. Unlike her classmates, Josefina gives Manu the benefit of the doubt. Even though she doesn’t understand why Manu attacked the school, she trusts Manu wouldn’t do it willingly. LGBTQ representation is present throughout the narrative with the revelation that Josefina isn’t attracted to boys. A relationship between Manu and Josefina is also hinted at towards the end of the novel. The panels are plentiful and expressive. Body parts are replicated and superimposed on each other to indicate movement. There’s a decrease in color as the story progresses. Panels go from full color to black and white, with some placed atop fully black pages to signify the past. Fernández pays homage to her Dominican roots with a story based on witchcraft and Roman Catholic traditions. She also includes some Spanish text throughout. Her creative adventure shows that even when we feel different, we always have someone to lean on.