As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

As the Crow Flies is a graphic novel about Charlie, a 13-year-old queer Black kid at an all-white, all-girls summer Christian backpacking camp. She's deconstructing some of the toxic theology she's been taught (specifically, white evangelicalism), but also holding on to her faith and giving it space to grow. As soon as the camp leader said there was going to be a "feminist ceremony," I knew TERF rhetoric wasn't far behind. Heads up for transphobia, gender essentialism, and racism in this book (none of these things are left unchecked). Charlie makes a new friend at camp who is also troubled by their leader's racism and TERF ideology, and the two girls become each other's confidants—and better yet, accomplices. The book…

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Titan by Francois Vigneault

Set in a mining colony on Saturn's moon Titan, this graphic novel by François Vigneault is far-future sci-fi that tackles issues of class, workers' rights, colonization, genetic engineering, and other political, social, and ethical issues. There are times when white text is printed on a light(ish) pink background (see image below). I hate to say how frustrating this was for me. My eyes simply aren't good enough to handle that without lighting that's much brighter than I prefer to read with. Aside from this one issue, I did love the artwork and that minimalistic color palette overall. It drew me in to the story and felt perfect for this off-world setting. I'm a huge sucker for a story that brings…

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The Sacrifice of Darkness by Roxane Gay and Tracy Lynne Oliver

The world feels especially dark and heartless right now, which makes perfect timing for The Sacrifice of Darkness. This strangely hopeful, empowering graphic novel is a collaboration between Roxane Gay and Tracy Lynne Oliver, an adaptation of Roxane Gay's short story of the same title (from the collection Difficult Women), in which the sun's light has disappeared. This book is exactly what I needed to read at this moment in time. I found Rebecca Kirby's art and James Fenner's subdued colors both atmospheric and beautiful. I grew to care about the characters, and I loved the allegorical, speculative sci-fi feel of the story. The Sacrifice of Darkness is the kind of book you reach for when you need a breather…

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Odessa by Jonathan Hill

In Jonathan Hill's Odessa, three siblings search for their mother in a post-apocalyptic United States, several years after a major earthquake has separated California from the rest of the country. Since this is the first book in a series, it spends a lot of time world-building and ends on a cliffhanger. The pacing felt rushed when it came to the conflicts and action that take place along the siblings' journey. Those moments resolved a little too quickly and neatly. The bickering between the siblings was a bit overdone and started to feel like filler. But the art is fantastic and the premise is cool. Odessa held my attention, and the book left me feeling like I must read the sequel(s)…

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Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer is a graphic memoir that follows the author as e questions eir gender and sexual identities (nonbinary and asexual). It's important to remember this is one individual's story, but its greatest strength is how Kobabe differentiates between cis people who resist gender expectations and how a person comes to understand they are nonbinary. There were a couple spots that I recognized as normal parts of this journey, but I wish these moments were fleshed out a bit more. My fear is that cis readers who don't have the knowledge to fill in the blanks might miss the overall point and be tempted to medicalize gender identity. Kobabe is very open about the many questions e had along the…

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Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo

Confession: I'm really not fond of Alcott's Little Women. But Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is a contemporary retelling, in graphic novel format, and it removed a lot of the reasons I couldn't make it past the halfway mark of the original story. Sometimes the girls' letters to their dad felt clunky, more like an info dump than realistic letters from his children. (This didn't bother my 10-year-old at all, though. She said she enjoyed the letters.) The Women's March illustration at the end included some trans-exclusive imagery, which was especially disappointing considering how diverse and inclusive the book otherwise was. But overall, I enjoyed this retelling. The characters are facing situations and issues that kids today can relate to,…

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A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson

This comic guide with a goofy, gently sarcastic sense of humor is all about gender neutral pronouns - how being misgendered feels, why pronouns matter, grammar, and examples of how to use these pronouns in real life. I was so glad the authors encouraged people to try to make their everyday language more inclusive by dropping words like ma'am, sir, guys, ladies, etc. and defaulting to "person" instead of assuming "man" or "woman" when speaking about someone you don't know. I wish the authors had addressed grammar pedants who get in a tizzy about singular they/them. They kind of allude to it when someone says "that just doesn't sound right to me", but this is such a common occurrence. I…

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Alex + Ada (Issues #1-12)

  Alex + Ada is a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But when Ada is dropped into his life, will Alex keep her? (Image Comics) When I first heard about Alex + Ada (thanks to Andi at Estella's Revenge) I was intrigued. I watch a lot of sci-fi, but I've been wanting to read more of it. The setting appealed to me: a tech-savvy future complete with robots and artificial intelligence, but fairly early on, when society is figuring out how to deal with all the changes this new technology brings. Also, I've been wanting to read more in the graphic novel/comics medium. So this…

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Top Ten Graphic Novels I Want To Read

A year and a half ago, I posted about being a graphic novel newbie. Since then, I've read a few of the titles I listed in that post and am far more open to this genre than I was before, but I'd still like to include more graphic novels in my reading. Thanks to bloggers like Andi at Estella's Revenge and websites such as Panels, I have a pretty great list of more possibilities. Here's my Top Ten Tuesday list of Graphic Novels I Want To Read (click on a cover to read more about it on Goodreads):About half of these are available at my local library, and most of the others are available through interlibrary loan. I also have…

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Review: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

. . American Born Chinese consists of three tandem narratives. A second generation immigrant and the only Chinese-American student at his new school in a predominantly white area, Jin Wang just wants to be a typical American boy. The immortal Monkey King is a proud kung fu master who is trying to become more than just a monkey. And all-American Danny is embarrassed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, who puts every Chinese stereotype into loud, off-putting action. As I read along, I wondered what, if anything, these storylines had to do with each other. Were they merely different perspectives on common themes, since all three addressed issues such as racism and intolerance? When the connections between these three narratives were revealed: wow!…

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