In a graphic novelette that wears its agenda on both sleeves and on every other garment, a young Latina mother moves through clouds of dialogue balloons filled with anti-smoking arguments.
Blowing off pleas to stop lighting up by her baby’s father, her widowed mother and the television, Maria falls asleep with a cigarette in her hand. She wakes to a dream world in which she has burned down her house, meets her repentant father in the hospital (“If I’d only realized that the only gift I was leaving you was asthma and a dirty habit…”) and is whisked off with a pregnant fellow patient to a confrontation with the witchy, bitchy—and, in Brown’s garishly colored, crudely drawn cartoons, hideously thin—head of the “Tarburro” corporation. She gloats: “Lovely, young parent smokers! Your children are my children!” For readers who aren’t already browbeaten into insensibility by the barrage of information, Jaime caps the episode with seven pages of statistics (mislabeled “Factoids”), websites and quiz questions.
Maria wakes at the end in a singed easy chair and resolves to quit cold turkey. The target audience, having certainly been exposed to similar anti-smoking screeds already, is unlikely to follow suit. (Graphic novel. 12-16)