Book Review: Blankets by Craig Thompson

Ten Word Summary: An empathetic story of love, faith and their ultimate loss.

First, I have to get this thing out of the way: If you’re the person who flips open a book, find it’s full of pictures, and shove it away, you need to give this book a chance. This is not a superhero comic. This is a mature graphic novel, deep in symbology, but mostly, deeply emotional.

blankets

Blankets is a graphic novel that tells the timeless tale of the first love, and not any love for that matter – the author’s/illustrator’s own first love. The story is a highly charged personal affair, blending many issues that everyone deals with – most certainly the bloggers I have been following – namely love, parents, obligations towards them and society, expectations, religious faith and devotion, self-loathing, and, between all of this: You.

Reading this graphic novel is like reading your own life, right in front of you. It’s beautiful not necessarily because of the story itself, but rather for the humanity of it; we all sport different personalities, different interests, and different cultures, yet emotions are what unite us all, and this book is painfully honest with them. Honest enough to remind you of the mental guilt trips and meshed thoughts that precede fornication, and the warmth of sleeping next to a loved one. It’s honest enough to show you how it feels like at the other end of the phone’s *click*. It’s honest enough to portray the internal struggle of shame vs honor vs expectations vs wants vs have-to’s. It’s honest to show the pain of divorce, the difficulty of having handicapped siblings, and parents who like to adulterate your childhood by forcing you to grow up. It’s just honest.

What fleshes out the story, though, is the art. I’ve read my share of comics and graphic novels – some of which were also mature – but the artwork here is wrapped around the emotions of the scenes. The creativity that comes with the symbology is beautiful. Juxtapositions in a frame between past and present, what’s being thought and what’s being spoken, and what is isn’t make the art inseperable from the text and emotions that flow out of both.

The book is thick at 580 pages, but I finished it in three sittings in one day. It’s immersive enough to warrant a reread of certain sections or chapters as well.

Bottom Line: It’s a rare gem you ought to have in your library. Recommended by giants such as Jules Feiffer and Neil Gaiman, what’s stopping you from picking this up?

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