I have said it before and will say again, the perks of working in a bookstore rock. That biggest of all perks is the reading of a book well before it comes out. And y’all might have to wait until June for Slip by Marika McCoola (unless you can find a reader copy like I did) but you can read this review today (tomorrow and the next day, too). Not to mention that if you go to your local independent bookstore today you can preorder. Plus, if you place that preorder at my store or our sister store, you are helping a former coworker (from the sister store) of mine.
McCoola talks about emotions and finding your place in art and the world at large. And perhaps most importantly, we find the ways to start learning who we are inside. There are doubts, hopes, dreams and fears. And topping it off, along with the actual events of the story, our main character (and you the reader) learns who you are without someone else forming you. It is simplistic on the outside, but the internal meaning is deep.
When I started reading, I felt like I had read the book before, but knew that was not the case. Going a bit farther in, I realized that no, I had not read this book before, but had read similar books. This graphic novel is comfortable as you know these people. Maybe they are not ceramic artists like Jade, or musicians like Phoebe. But we have the best friend, we have the first crush, we have the overachiever who is not sure how to be “part of the crowd” as they have always had to be above it. We have had these feelings of hopelessness, joy, anger.
The story starts off during the summer Jade is leaving for an art camp. Right before she leaves, she gets a phone call from her friend Phoebe. Phoebe is in the hospital, having tried to hurt herself (attempt suicide). The rest of the book is Jade trying to figure out who she is if Phoebe is not there. What does it mean if she is unable to talk to her? Through the art she creates, her new friends and some interesting symbolic ceramic pieces, Jade figures out that this summer can open more doors than just being able to win scholarships.
Astmaia Pandya’s illustrations are expressive. However, as this is a reader copy, I am not exactly sure how complete they are. The colors seem to be basic, with only using minimal ones, and the details simple. There are a few bumps in the text that are filled in by the art. The only real issue I have is that the characters look much younger than their high school status/thinking of colleges and scholarships would make them seem.
There are trigger issues such as attempted suicide, sexuality, and mental health. However, McCoola sensitively deals with them allowing mature readers to access this graphic novel. Ages 10 and up are fine but know your audience.