Hello, friends! Our book today is the powerful I Am Mine Alone by Raquel Díaz Reguera, translated by Cecilia Ross, an affecting metaphor that helps us recognize the difference between love and control.
Mousy, a hardworking mouse with lots of friends, is excited to have moved in with her partner, Buck. However, she quickly finds that living with Buck is not what she had imagined it would; they fight often, he buys her presents that encourage her to change her interests and style, he discourages her from spending time with her friends, and he frequently says things that make her feel small and scared. Mousy rationalizes that this is how Buck express his love, but as her friends begin to worry, Mousy begins to feel more and more unhappy (while Buck begins to look less and less like a fellow mouse). Will Mousy find the courage to break free from her dynamic with Buck, and find herself again?
Wow. First, I’ll say that this is probably a title better reserved for older readers; both the language and themes seem to be geared towards older elementary/juvenile audiences. However, I have never seen a picture book deal so candidly and so movingly with the issue of intimate partner abuse in most of its forms – emotional, verbal, physical, etc (sexual abuse, however, is not mentioned). Those who are aware of Buck’s tactics will recognize gaslighting, manipulation, and intimidation; those who are not will receive a crash course in the way abusers use these behaviors to isolate and control their targets. And between the narrative and visual storytelling, Reguera weaves a strikingly poignant cautionary/educational tale that ends in triumph, community, and self-determination. The length is fine for older kiddos, and while the majority of the story went over her head, JJ was still able to recognize and agree with the key themes: love should never make us afraid, and a person belongs only to themselves. Overall, an amazing achievement, and Baby Bookworm approved.
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)