Suncatcher by José Pimienta
Publisher: Random House Graphic
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Available Through The Book Depository: Suncatcher
Summary: Beatriz must create the perfect song in order to free her grandfather’s soul . . . but what will be the cost?
If life wasn’t already hard enough for Beatriz — being a teenager, trying to start a band, and going to school — then she discovers that her grandfather’s soul has been trapped in an old guitar, and that the only way to free him is to play the perfect song . . . his perfect song, a song that he never actually wrote down. She’s determined to save her grandfather, but as music slowly takes over her life, she soon finds herself growing obsessed with his song, and making it absolutely flawless, at the expense of her friendships, her band, and her health.
Beatriz won’t let anything stop her, not even her own limitations. Creating a magical song is already a lot of pressure, but Beatriz will have to make some hard choices before it’s too late for her grandfather . . . and for herself.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: Suncatcher is a standalone graphic novel about music, family, and striving for perfection! Set during the 90’s and early 2000’s in Mexicali, Beatriz makes a promise to her grandfather to complete his perfect song!
Though I have yet to read more Random House Graphic books, their lineup has looked fantastic and I’m glad to have finally picked my first book from their imprint. This graphic novel not only features great artwork, but explores beautiful themes from music to family.
Beatriz’s love for music came from her grandfather, Tata Mario. They had a powerful bond and Tata Mario allowed her to discover her passion. However, when he passes some of his final words still haunt her: “That melody is a killer.”
As she’s still processing her grief and his loss, it felt like a piece of her heart had been taken, replaced with a feeling of emptiness.
One day she finds an old guitar in her family’s attic and realizes her dear grandfather’s returned in an unlikely way, his soul is trapped inside. The only way to set him free is for Beatriz to finish his “perfect song.”
Determined to help her grandfather in any way she can, Beatriz decides to join a band that’ll be a good fit for her and her music. As she finds her perfect band, filled with classmates and mutual friends: Ed, Diana, and Fausto, she’s sure that the melody won’t be too far.
But, as Beatriz becomes consumed with finishing and perfecting the song at any moment inspiration strikes, she doesn’t realize how far she’s sinking in order to help her grandfather. At the expense of her health, even missing the day-to-day right in front of her, we see how Beatriz’s goal is impacting her friends and the band.
The plot is packed with so much to explore, from Beatriz’s obsession with the song, the band’s origins to their many gigs, exploring the different group dynamics, and learning more about Tata Mario’s past.
While brief, I loved the pages that gave us background into Tata Mario’s past to learn more about how music impacted his life and the legacy Beatriz can carry on. I also loved the exploration of friendship with Beatriz, Diana, and Ed ― their friendship was pretty instantaneous and their dynamic was fun to read about. Which juxtaposed her dynamic with newcomer Abel, as she was trying to play her grandfather’s perfect song with the band, trying not to include his lyrics.
Throughout the entirety of this graphic novel, you get the unwavering strength of family and how powerful that bond is through Beatriz and her grandfather. Its such an important part of Latine/Latinx culture and Pimienta made it a vital and underlying theme of the story. The Mexicali culture is also woven into the story as seen through the colorful backgrounds, architecture, and Mexicali music scene/references.
When it comes to the plot, there are occasional time jumps and flashbacks, but they are all woven together with such care that unlock new layers to the intriguing contemporary-paranormal story with each page!
I’m no expert on art styles, but it appears to have detailed and unique fine tip linework on every panel. Character designs are all varied and diverse, as are the backgrounds which are layered with a unique range of muted colors from purple, yellow, and orange to name a few. The colors and artwork offer such striking visuals to further emphasize the magic of music.
My only critique is that because the narrative really is about Beatriz and her goal, some plot points of her with the band seem more slow-paced and at moments it was difficult to fully immerse myself in those parts of the story, but overall I loved how the band evolved with each new session. I also appreciated how the 2 stories really weave together near the end.
Sunctcatcher is a detailed graphic novel that captures the spirit of music and the sacrifices artists make for their work! From its rich color palette, art style, introspective storytelling, and impactful themes, this is a fantastic graphic novel debut. Suncatcher is a musically-fueled tale about the sacrifices we make for family!