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Show Me How You Do That Trick

A book review of Blankets, Craig Thompson's award winning, autobiographical graphic novel.

Show Me How You Do That Trick

BOOK REPORT for Blankets by Craig Thompson

Cover Story: Simply Sweet
BFF Charm: Maybe
Swoonworthy Scale: 0-5
Talky Talk: Teenage Philosopher
Arty Art: Sketchbook
Bonus Factors: Midwest Winter, Church Retreats
Relationship Status: I Promise That I'll Run Away With You

Cover Story: Simply Sweet

I love the simple blue background and the two characters embracing on the cover. It tells you right away that you will have a love story. It's a bit cheesecakey, but I still like it.

The Deal:

This autobiographical graphic novel takes us through both the author/artist's childhood and his senior year of high school. We experience bits and pieces of Craig's sad childhood that involve poverty, abuse, bullying and a strict religious upbringing. The rest of the story concerns Craig's first love - a girl named Raina who he meets at a church retreat. They strike up a long distance friendship and eventually, a relationship, as Craig visits her and her complicated family. It is during this same time period that Craig begins questioning his faith and the religious dogma he has been raised on.

BFF Charm: Maybe

Reading Craig's story makes my heart break to the point where I want to rush over to him, hand him a BFF charm and give him a hug. That said, sometimes love-starved guys are the worst to try and befriend. I have a feeling teenage Craig would accept my friendship but hope for or try to turn it into something more and before I know it he'd be trying to girlfriend me. Not to When Harry Met Sally you folks, but some guys are at certain times in their lives completely incapable of being "just friends" with a girl. And that can be frustrating for all parties involved. Projecting much? Perhaps, but we've all been there, amirite?? But I'm pretty sure grown-up Craig and I could be good buds.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0-5

This was a TOUGH number to pin down. This book chronicles a first love, so on the one hand we get all the tender moments and the butterflies and sweetness and innocence. On the other hand, we get the awkward moments and the uncomfortable silences. And it feels so real (uh, probably because it was real) which has the result of making me feel v. v. uncomfortable at times. Definitely not a relationship you get all dreamy and swoony over. However there are some serious sexy-times between these characters (WARNING: partial teenage nudity!)

Talky Talk: Teenage Philosopher

This book has panels and pages that are wordless, the voice bubble dialogue for the characters plus the narration from the author. When the dialogue occurs, it is always very believable. Even the awkward or uncomfortable dialogue feels very real. However, the narration takes a completely different tone. The author is constantly philosophizing about life, religion, love, etc. Sometimes it can be poignant and other times it can be a bit much.

Arty Art: Sketchbook

Ummm I am probably even less adept at talking about art than I am at talking about literature (ha! I just called YA literature, who's gonna fight me? No one here, I should hope.) The author's illustrations range from cartoony and silly to detailed and lush. I especially love the way he uses his panels - different shapes, some times bleeding into each other, some times one drawing taking up a whole page. This book is quite an exceptional work of art.

Bonus Factor: Midwest Winter

This books setting takes place in Wisconsin (and partially Michigan) and mostly during the winter months. As a Midwesterner I totally have to appreciate the beautiful and lush drawings of the white snowy landscapes. Craig and the other characters are constantly trekking through the snow, playing in the snow and (like all of us Midwesterners do) constantly talking about the snow.

Bonus Factor: Church Retreats

As a wise young man remarks within this story, church camp is the best place to score pussy. This is true, right? I was never big into any youth program at my church in high school, but I had friends who were and boy howdy. They would go build houses in rural Appalachia or something but all I would hear about were the scandalous hookups and the overzealous use of alcohol. Sounds pretty fun now but at the time I definitely thought it was a bit weird to use Jesus as your pimp.

Casting Call:

Craig is drawn as scrawny, with long greasy nineties grunge hair and a large nose. So maybe this seems a bit unfair but I cannot stop picturing Adrien Brody. Not the Adrien who is gutting predators or tonguing Halle Barry or kicking velociraptors in the head or spooning beautiful women outside of his castle. No, I'm talking about the more awkward version of himself he can be when he's, ya know, acting. So, keep that in mind as I wind back the time machine by a couple of decades and I've got my teenage Craig!

A young Adrien Brody as Craig

Relationship Status: I Promise That I'll Run Away With You

This was a re-read for me and I'm happy to say I still love this book. But while I claim I'll run away with this book, I would probably pull a Raina and do no such thing. But still, I've set this book up with a lot of my lovely friends and will continue to do so.

Megan Crane's photo About the Author: Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.