I am currently taking a course on library services for young adults in which I have been asked to review 10 books, so I have decided to post my reviews here too. This is my eighth review. (You can read other book reviews that I have done here if you really want to.) This book will probably appeal to teens around 16 and up. Themes include Christianity, first love, siblings, maturing, relationships with parents, and fitting in. The genre is autobiography. This book is a graphic novel.
This is a story told with images (graphic novel) drawn by Craig Thompson about his own life as a teenager. He focuses on his relationships with his brother Phil, his first love Raina, and his Christian faith. The story jumps around in time from Craig’s childhood to his early adulthood, touching on various episodes in more or less depth. The focal point of the story is Craig’s relationship with Raina, a girl that he meets at a Christian camp. Craig is a socially awkward child who seems to fall on the wrong side of the bullies at every stage in his life. Raina, however, accepts him for who he is, giving him a new confidence and also making him reflect more deeply on his relationship with his brother and with his faith.
Despite its length (592 pages — a hefty tome to hold), I found this to be a very quick read (finished in a few hours one evening). The images are well drawn and serve to enhance the reader’s understanding of Craig’s perspective. The story is compelling and would certainly appeal to teenagers. There are some explicit drawings (primarily of naked men and women, sometimes in compromising sexual positions) that will certainly offend people who are looking to be offended, so it would be advisable for librarians to read this book before adding it to their collections in case they are asked to defend it. While I enjoyed the book as a whole, I found the ending to be unsatisfying (it seems to just *end*) and I sometimes felt that the discussion of Thompson’s struggle to come to terms with his faith took over the story. People who are looking for non-traditional Christian literature may find this struggle enlightening/entertaining but I found that it often threatened to dominate the themes in the book, making me wonder whether I was reading an edgy coming-of-age book or one that was designed as a conversation piece for Bible study classes. Forewarned of the religious overtones, the reader can make her own choice of how to digest the story.