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The world is rarely fair, if ever. Angel is only coming to truly realize this now. She loves art and has been vying to be part of her community mural project. Through this project their neighbourhoods are supposed to be cleaned up while the best art students in town get to do up murals. But not every neighbourhood will benefit and it takes Angel a while to find out. This where the allure of graffiti grows strong because nobody is in charge of where she puts her art.
Graffiti art. It’s bold. It’s thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble….
Raised by her single mom (who’s always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn’t rate, she’s heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos – a senior track star and Angel’s secret crush – taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she’s angry and hurt. She’s determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.
That’s when Miguel Badalin – from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte – opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She’s blown away by this bad boy’s fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she’s running with Miguel’s crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.
Clearly I’ve been after books on graffiti and also some art lately. What caught my interest when I found Graffiti Girl and ordered it was the title. Graffiti is largely male-dominated, so throwing a female protagonist into the setting had to bring another dimension. True to my expectations, it did. For those who enjoy love triangles, Angela, Miguel and Nathan really bring it on. But that’s not what I particularly cared about. I mean, yeah, both Miguel and Nathan had their draws and I could see Angela pick either one. The backstory between Miguel and Nathan was a little too straightforward but the reasons were good enough to hold the story together.
Anyway, back to why I picked up this book in the first place: graffiti. Angela is drawn by the style and the edge it can lend to her art. She wishes she could replicate the realistic style of Nathan’s art but all she can muster on paper are cartoon-like or two-dimensional pieces. This is where Miguel comes in. He has been into graffiti for a long time already and sees potential in Angela. Maybe seeing how her style is useful in another form of art can boost her confidence. Plus, she can infuse as much of her Mexican heritage as she wants to without anyone giving her flak for it.
Even though the premise also involves the danger of illegal graffiti and the conflict between battling crews, Graffiti Girl ended up being somewhat of a quick and feel-good read. The grit of the streets, the machismo of Miguel and some of the other guys, and the fear that Angela has of getting caught if she involves herself in illegally tagging do not come across as seriously as I think they should. These aspects should not be taken too lightly, yet Angela’s romantic worries over Nathan and Miguel do drown out some of the crucial moments that involve these.