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Craig Thompson – Blankets

October 19, 2015

53. Blankets by Craig Thompson (2003)

Length: 582 pages
Genre: Autobiographical Graphic Memoir

Started/Finished: 16 August 2015

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’ve heard this one talked about as a seminal graphic novel enough times that I thought I should read it.

Everybody’s first
love should be immortalized
in such a nice way.

Summary: This graphic memoir tells the story of one winter in our teenage protagonist’s life. Raised with his brother in a very strictly Christian and borderline abusive household, Craig’s only escape from his home life and the bullies at school is his art – which his fundamentalist faith causes him to question. At a winter-break church camp, things don’t seem much better, until he meets Raina. They fall quickly and deeply in love, although since she lives far away, their relationship is bound to have its share of problems. Eventually Craig goes to visit, only to find out that while Raina’s family may be very different from his own, it has its share of problems as well. Now they must both learn to navigate the waters of adulthood to deal with their families – and their feelings for each other.

Review: I liked a lot of elements about this one, even though it was a fairly standard coming of age story. I felt the anguish and the ecstasy of first love, the way you feel like this is it and this is the only thing that matters in the universe, forever, and nothing can ever go wrong until everything goes wrong. I thought it had some interesting things to say about faith, whether that faith is in God or in other people or in yourself. I like Thompson’s artwork a lot – it’s simple but it’s expressive and really conveys a lot of emotion but doesn’t feel heavy. But above everything else, this book made me nostalgic. For my own high-school loves, sure, but mostly for an upper Midwest winter. Thompson renders the feeling of deep winter so perfectly and so clearly that it’s practically another character. As a Yankee transplant to the South, I don’t miss the reality of winter – chapped lips and dry skin and constantly cold toes – but the starkness of a snowy woods at night, or looking up into the snowfall and feeling like you’re falling upwards, or just the simple pleasure of being warm and cozy inside when it’s miserable outside… that I miss. But the rest of the story is well done and interesting and genuinely touching, too, and I like that I didn’t get the happy ending that I thought I wanted. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: While I don’t know that I would say something like “this is a graphic novel everyone should read”, I can see how it ends up on those sorts of lists, and it would certainly be one that I think would be a good starting point for someone unfamiliar with the genre.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, Rivers I Have Known, Things Mean a Lot, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: When we were young, my little brother Phil and I shared the same bed.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. buriedinprint permalink
    October 21, 2015 3:47 pm

    I loved this one, too, for the wintry-ness as well. I’m rereading some books that I loved as a girl (which are often not as loveable for me as an adult with different ideas about the world than I had back then, but I still think fondly of them from my girl-reader’s perspective) and I love the winter scenes in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books (and there is a lot of winter).

  2. October 21, 2015 5:02 pm

    I loved Blankets, too; and one of the things I remember of it is that winter aspect. I felt that nostalgia, and even though I still live through winters, for me it evoked the winters of my teen years (when I lived closer to nature rather than in the city).

    I’m glad to hear you loved this one. I can definitely see why it has such an important place on so many people’s shelves!

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