CBR Bingo: Illustrated
My Boyfriend is a Bear, Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris (2 Stars)
To be honest graphic novels are probably the most “not my wheelhouse” genre for me but since an illustrated book was required for Bingo My Boyfriend is a Bear checks off this square instead. I chose My Boyfriend because it was written by Pamela Ribon and since I am not a comic reader I didn’t want to read the first of a long series I had no intentions to complete. Obviously one has to suspend their disbelief when reading a book about a woman dating a real life bear but this was… not great.
Nora is stuck in a dead-end relationship (with a human) who she breaks up with over a camping trip- a camping trip she throws away a magazine with her address. A bear finds her house, they move in together and fall in love. Nora’s family and friends are understandably shocked and confused as to why Nora would want to be in a relationship with an actual bear- a bear who doesn’t speak English and they never fully explain how they’re intimate except to imply that they are… Again, I know I should be suspending my disbelief and going with the flow but it is pretty clear this takes place in the “real world” with the only out of the ordinary thing going on being that Nora’s boyfriend is a bear.
I would not have finished this if it wasn’t for Bingo and probably would have skipped this category if I hadn’t decided to use my Freebie for the Classics square due to time constraints (even bad comics taken infinitely less time to read than Jane Austen or a Bronte sister).
CBR Bingo: Banned Books
Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell (All the stars)
I was pretty shocked to discover that Eleanor & Park is a frequently challenged book due to its language and sexuality because I have read some YA books that are far more explicit in both language and sexuality that, to my knowledge, go about their business. I was not disappointed that this meant I could read a book I love for this Bingo square though!
Park is the only Asian kid in town, excluding his brother who looks more like their white dad, but he has always flown under the radar at school. Eleanor had no chance of blending in on the school bus; she is overweight with big, red hair and a quirky sense of style. The unusual duo sit next to each other on the bus in silence for weeks before forming a tenuous friendship based on comic books (maybe I should have just read Watchmen or X-men, they were spoken so highly of here!) and punk music. Eventually they fall in love and then the reader’s heart breaks into a million little pieces.
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”
Eleanor’s home life is awful. Her mother has married a piece of crap named Richie who kicked Eleanor out of the house for over a year before reluctantly letting her move back in. Eleanor shares a room with three of her siblings, has few possessions of her own and has to take a bath in the middle of the kitchen. Park is a breath of fresh air for her but also a terrifying secret to keep. The more entwined Eleanor’s life gets with Park’s the more complicated her home life gets until everything fall apart in a sudden, dramatic fashion.
“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered.
This story is absolutely devastating and I think the various school districts that have challenged and/or banned this nearly perfect teen drama are completely missing the point. This book should be placed into the hands of more young children taken off library book shelves!