This graphic novel, published this year, is a short story about two girls (early teens) whose families meet every summer in Ontario at Awago Beach. Rose is an only child whose parents seem fairly ordinary. Windy is an adopted only child who goes to the beach with her mother and grandmother. It is a “coming of age” story that has been getting favorable reviews within comic book circles and even from the New York Times.
For a short story (you could easily read it in an afternoon), the novel covers some complex themes quite capably. There is the story of the two girls and their evolving relationship as they grow up, and there is a story about a local older teen on whom Rose has a crush but who has gotten a local girl (Jenny) pregnant. Rose and Windy are at an awkward age — a growing interest in boys, but still being a “kid” next to the older local teens who hang out at the village store and beach; shocking themselves by watching slasher movies; hoping for big boobs.
Rose feels some pretty typical teenage angst — that wistfulness and resentfulness that come with the territory. Windy seems a bit immature but surprises the reader and Rose with a very sharp insight toward the end of the story. She has much more sympathy for Jenny than Rose does and sees the unappealing nature of the “dud” boyfriend (so dubbed by Windy) immediately.
Then there is the story of Rose and her parents, who are going through a rough patch. Rose is very close to her dad, and her mother seems remote and aloof. We learn that there is a strain in the marriage, with the mom suffering from depression related to an inability to conceive. Rose is the focal point of the story and her anger at both her mother and Jenny is what needs to be resolved by the end.
In my quest to read 50 books by 50 women this year for ReadWomen2014, this graphic novel satisfied in several ways. First, it deals with themes of female relationships and how females can support and/or turn on each other, whether friend/friend, daughter/mother or romantic rivals. Second, women writers and artists are still somewhat of a rarity in the world of comic books and graphic novels. Finding a novel that is both written and illustrated by women was quite a feat and I have my husband to thank for recommending this one. The illustrations, done in purples and blues on white, are very appealing and reminded me a bit of Anya’s Ghost (another good read for girls and readwomen2014). This is a good book for adults and youth, handling mature themes in a realistic and responsible way.