As far as I can tell, this is the first graphic novel that I ever read, and only because a friend recommended it. There’s much about this story that I found I could relate to. The character describes his childhood traumas in such subtle but graphic details, without a lot of words but in a very impactful way nevertheless.
He writes about his relationship with his younger brother, which is equal parts loving and competitive.
He writes about his disillusion with organized religion, particularly his family’s religion. As somebody who grew up in Sunday School, I can truly understand what he is trying to describe. Even if you didn’t grow up in Sunday School, I suppose you can still understand his message. How his concept of God was rooted more in fear than in love. How church took up a whole lot of family time. How Christians are sometimes out of touch and out of reach, unable to truly connect with people who need them. How church can sometimes be filled with overused platitudes but, again, being unable to truly connect with people who are in pain.
For the writer, this resulted to a break with his relationship with his church, not necessarily with God. As he goes through young adulthood, he had a hard time reconciling his very natural, normal feelings with his Christian faith. My issues with organized religion was not resolved the same way his was, but I can definitely see where he is coming from.
A bulk of the story is also about his first love. It’s cute, sweet, heart wrenching, tummy twisting all at the same time. Even the family issues of the girl he likes are described in such beautiful details, albeit without so many words. Going through all the stages of this first love brings back memories.
The illustrations were fascinating. Each page is a work of art that I really enjoyed looking at. It lent the story more emotions, like the writer is showing in both words and drawings the nuances of each moment. I think I enjoyed most the pages that had no words. The author had a way of using “silent” pages to let you breathe and feel for a moment before you move on. It’s quite beautiful.
Overall, it’s a beautiful book. I appreciated both the story and the artistic effort that went into each page.