I heard about this graphic novel through various (book-related) Youtube channels, and I hadn’t heard any bad reviews on it, so that’s how I first became interested in reading it. When I was at the library, I found it and immediately knew I had to check it out. I am so glad I did.
This graphic novel is much more serious than many others that I have read, and definitely directed towards a more mature audience. The novel focuses on one boy’s life up to his twenties, switching between narratives from high school and flashbacks to his childhood. Craig grew up in an extremely religious household, attended a strict Christian school, and even attended Christian summer and winter camps. It’s no surprise that this takes a toll on his mental state and how he views the world around him. This book really shows the severity that some strict religious parents have, and how this negatively affects their children, even if they believe they are doing the right thing. This also effects how he’s treated at school by other children. He’s bullied and alienated by many students, which only adds to his complicated relationship with his parents and younger brother.
His life changes after meeting Raina at the winter Christian camp, and the rest of the book shows the reality of this long-distance, restrained-through-circumstances relationship with all of the ups and downs. It is a good read for young adults in their twenties who are leaving their parents’ homes and meeting new people, or even older readers who may not remember how difficult this stage in life can be.
I loved this book, and, even though it was an extremely emotional read, I enjoyed every part. I felt Craig’s emotions along with him and understood the things I don’t have experience with because Thompson did such an amazing job writing and showing these situations. It’s a very thick book, but don’t let that intimidate you. Being a graphic novel, it’s a quick read that will suck you in right away and you won’t want to stop.
Thompson’s illustrations are beautiful, and through sharp lines and swirls and curves working together the story is given a realistic but still somewhat dream-like feel. The pages with one panel and large image are gorgeous as well, as Thompson uses the blank space and its interaction with the sharp black to push an emotion into the reader. Facial expressions are very clear, which only makes one more invested in this character’s life.
Overall, I definitely recommend this graphic novel to anyone going through this transitioning phase in their life or later, because even if it isn’t completely specific to your personal experience, you will be able to relate. It’s a beautiful, emotional ride and it’s completely worth paying attention to the scenery.
Rating: 5/5 stars