Blankets – Craig Thompson tells his own story with a fictional yet biographical look at falling in love, living with an ever-present shadow of religion, and the perils of childhood. The size of this tome might be intimidating, but it’s a hard story to put down once started, and before long the pages have all turned and all you’re left with is a bittersweet memory. Beautiful images and a touching story make reading Blankets time well spent. –David Stewart
Set to Sea – In Set to Sea, Drew Weing manages to tell the story of a man’s life in fewer words than seems possible. The images are drawn as cartoons, but tell the tale of a poet forced into a life of piracy, completely against his will. Despite the circumstances, the voyage of our nameless protagonist is a touching one, with periods of violence and poetic inspiration than offset one another in striking ways. With Set to Sea, Weing proves that we don’t always need words to understand the voyages of life. –David Stewart
The Zabime Sisters by Aristophane–On the first day of summer vacation, teenaged sisters M’Rose, Elle, and Célina step out into the tropical heat of their island home and continue their headlong tumble toward adulthood. Boys, schoolyard fights, petty thievery, and even illicit alcohol make for a heady mix, as The Zabime Sisters indulge in a little summertime freedom. The dramatic backdrop of a Caribbean island provides a study of contrasts—a world that is both lush and wild, yet strangely small and intimate—which echoes the contrasts of the sisters themselves, who are at once worldly and wonderfully naïve.
Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Rondy DuBurke—Some graphic novels choose to portray beautiful imagery and stories, and others do the exact opposite. The story of Yummy, based on a real teenage gang member who haunted the streets of Southside Chicago the middle 1990s, does not tell a touching story, but rather gives a graphic view of just how violent and torrential the life of a child can be. Despite the fact that Yummy’s actions made national news and even found calls for reform, this graphic novel serves as a poignant reminder of what still happens in our own backyard to this day. Yummy is not a work of art, but a lesson in violence.