“21” The Story of Roberto Clemente ~ Wilfred Santiago


Date Completed:3/6/16


This is a story not only about baseball, but about Puerto Rico’s absorption into the US and impact that had on Clemente and his friends and family. The graphic novel format lends itself to the many dimensional concept of life, and allows the reader to experience news papers, TV, letters, declarations, and conversations. Santiago really displayed how baseball is politics with this novel. Roberto Clemente was the first Latino player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Parts of the story I found to be a little choppy and it was hard to keep track of the time frame of things. One moment Clemente was talking to his girlfriend, the next they were married and had children. That was the only downside about this book. I loved the sepia tones, as they are softer on the eyes than traditional black and white. I also appreciated how the author changed the color of the dialogue bubbles depending on whether the characters were speaking English or Spanish. That helps give the readers a clear understanding of when English was used vs. when Spanish was used. I’m glad also that the author took us back to Clemente’s childhood, as that was an important set up to how he became a baseball player. And, of course, the discussion of race that is always present, especially in the South in the 1960’s. One point to note on that is the difference between his drawings of white characters vs. characters of color; white people were all hard lines and angles, while POC were drawn very flowing with lots of curves. I think that speaks to the roles and dynamics that were present between the white people and the POC.

What is most touching about this story is that his dream was realized even after his death.

Wilfred Santiago was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and has written one other book, Michael Jordan: Bull on Parade. He currently lives in Chicago, and is preparing to publish another book soon.


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