Year of Graphic Novels

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I’ve never been good at keeping New Year’s resolutions; most of the time I never bother to make them in the first place. So this year I declared (to anyone that would listen) that 2016 would be the “Year of Graphic Novels.” Vague but important sounding, this resolution requires me to read more than my usual amount of graphic novels to achieve resolution success. Considering my previous average of two graphic novels per year, I figured this resolution would be relatively easy to accomplish and also give me an opportunity to read some excellent books.

And success! I’ve read 25 graphic novels this year! Here are four of my favorites.

Blue is the Warmest Color

Clementine is a normal French teenager going to school, hanging out with friends and writing in her diary until a chance encounter with a mysterious blue-haired girl changes her life forever. Clementine struggles with her feelings for Emma and own her identity in this beautifully written and illustrated story about young love.

Persepolis

Persepolis is a graphic novel in two parts. Part one, The Story of a Childhood, is about Satrapi’s childhood growing up in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. Part two, The Story of a Return, focuses on her teen years living and studying in Austria and about her eventual return to Iran, where she transitions into adulthood. While Satrapi succeeds in crafting a complex portrait of post-revolution Iran that is both critical and humanizing, Persepolis is not merely a historical account. It is a story of a young girl struggling to find a sense of identity and purpose, all the while witnessing the horrific realities of war and oppression.

Blankets: An Illustrated Novel

Blankets is, in many ways, the story of a first love—it depicts a teenage Thompson meeting a friend at church camp, corresponding with her, and then traveling to visit her for two weeks in her snow-covered Michigan hometown. This sweet and redemptive love story is interwoven with darker memories from Thompson’s childhood and adolescence, including years of bullying from his peers. Both in the snowy landscapes that dominate Blankets and the story Thompson tells, the reader is faced with visions of purity and the things that tarnish it.

March. Book One

Civil Rights activist John Lewis tells the story of his childhood and early years as a student in Alabama. His dedication to the principles of non-violence and equality lead him and fellow students to organize protests against segregation in their city. Exciting, inspiring and educational, Lewis’ first book shows how a legend is made.