Blankets by Craig Thompson
Last year I read Habibi and that was brilliant and then I came across Blankets which was apparently Thompson's first Big Deal.
So, Blankets is basically a memoir of Thompson's religious childhood out in the middle of Nowhere, Michigan. While it does cover some of his childhood and his relationship with his brother, the main focus of the book is a two week "vacation" when he was a teenager, in which he stays with his "more-than-a-friend-but-not-quite-a-girlfriend", Raina. And that's about it for plot because this book isn't about plot, it's about Thompson's growth and development as an adolescent.
As always, he masterfully merges the story with his illustrations, even when he touches on uncomfortable subjects, which are even more gut-wrenching because this is a memoir and therefore things that actually happened to him.
The only drawback, at least for me personally, is the focus of the storyline. To be honest, the whole teen-romantic-angst angle just wasn't particularly interesting to me. I've probably said this before, but I'm not a romantic person, and I find romance (particularly teen romance) and the drama associated with it, to be tedious. Honestly, I thought dynamic between he and his brother more interesting and would have liked to see more of that, although apparently they sort of drifted as they got older so perhaps there isn't too much there. Of course, he was also still pretty young (24) when he started working on this book, so of course his formative teen years are going to be the focus, and Raina appears to have had the biggest influence on him during that time.
There are parts where the drama seems a bit too drawn out, and parts where the glowing perfection that is Raina seems a bit unrealistic, but then you have to remind yourself that this is from his memories and his perspective, so of course things are going to be skewed. Raina appears perfect because that's how he saw her.
Overall though, it is an enjoyable read, and despite the size, rather quick as it is a graphic novel. Thompson certainly captures the growth and development of his person through childhood to adolescence and beyond.It'd be interesting to see him put out another memoir as a much older person with more life experience to reflect on.