Taking place in Chile in 2001, Arroz con Leche* by Conneeh follows a budding friendship that crosses the boundary of class and social status. It’s a sweet and hopeful comic that’s not afraid to show life’s ugly moments.
Reader Warning: This review for Arroz con Leche contains mentions of domestic violence and child abuse as depicted in this webcomic. If you’re currently in a toxic and abusive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please report to your (US) state’s Child Protective Services. International numbers and resources for domestic violence and reporting child abuse or neglect are also available.
Kindergarteners Alex and Nico, the latter a new student at Alex’s school, eventually become friends despite the class differences between them. Nico’s from a family dealing with financial issues. Alex comes from a stable home environment. When Alex invites Nico to his sixth birthday party, Nico finds himself eager but scared to ask his alcoholic father. After his father threatens him not to go, Nico decides to take action to leave and see Alex.
One of the most powerful slice of life stories I’ve ever come across, Arroz con Leche transcends discussions about class and domestic violence. In Chile, arroz con leche represents healing, and the story consistently executes that part of the narrative. This webcomic shows the effects of financial hardships and poverty through well nuanced dialogue and scenic moments. Nico’s realistic feelings and reactions toward his family, like being afraid to go home, demonstrate a child’s emotional and mental state when living in a toxic environment. It takes courage for Nico to ask for help, and the story naturally executes that.
Dialogue in the webcomic doesn’t appear until after the first few chapters, but the pacing doesn’t deter. When we do get dialogue, each word matters. The scenery and character expressions at the beginning grounds the story’s target audience. Alex’s classmates don’t like him playing with Nico during recess because the latter is poor. The parts featuring Nico’s father and his enabling of violence at home are well nuanced. Arroz con Leche is a webcomic definitely worth checking out for its powerful narrative and message.
For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomics archives!
*Arroz con leche is Spanish for rice pudding.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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