As soon as I started reading graphic novels (which was just a few months ago), I started noticing interesting-sounding ones everywhere. Blankets was one of the first I saw that I was interested in, but its 500+ pages sort of intimidated me at first. I wasn’t sure that I’d enjoy reading so many pages of pictures and text together. Once I realized how much I’m really enjoying this genre, I took the plunge and picked up Blankets from my library. I’m very happy I made that decision because this book was really very good.
I have to say that at first it was difficult for me to know how to classify this one. The book jacket itself calls Blankets a novel, but Amazon.com calls it a memoir and it seems to me that the book is composed of Thompson’s experiences growing up. So I’m going to go ahead and call it a graphic memoir, but someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here. Either way, the book is basically a story of Craig Thompson and how he grew up with strict Fundamentalist Christian parents and a younger brother who he loved/hated all at once, how he came to form his own opinion of the church he was raised in, how he met and had a relationship with his first love, and how he became the adult he is today.
This really was a very touching, very sweet story. Thompson chronicles his childhood in an honest way, but in a way that encourages the reader to laugh along with him too. He and his brother didn’t have the perfect life as kids, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who grew up in much the same way – strict parents, Christian summer camp, questionable baby-sitters, etc. While I felt sympathy for some of his not so great experiences, I also laughed out loud at the ways in which he depicted some of these experiences. I particularly loved reading the portions of Blankets that centered on Raina, his first girlfriend. Their relationship was so typically high-school and so adorable that I couldn’t help wanting to read more. I remember my first serious relationship – I was about the same age – and reading Thompson’s story made me remember all those emotions (in a good way!).
I don’t have a lot of experience with graphic novels/memoirs, so I can’t say that I am really able to critique the illustrations in the book at all. But I will say that I enjoyed them – the pictures and words corresponded very well together, and Thompson was able to tell a complete story with just pictures in a few places throughout the book. I truly felt like I got to know the characters, which is not always easy to do with so few words. Overall, Blankets is a wonderful graphic novel/memoir that is not to be missed.
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