Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie
Published in the US by Drawn and Quarterly

Aya lives in the Ivory Coast and is nineteen years old in 1978. She is smart, has a good head on her shoulders, and is destined for success – the quintessential good girl. Her friends, Adjoua and Bintou, aren’t as much so as Aya, and they get themselves into some interesting situations. In their home of Yop City, there is a marketplace where lovers meet at night, and what happens on these evenings soon becomes the town gossip.

I quite enjoy graphic novels from time to time, and I’d heard good things about Aya (I think from Eva but I can’t be sure) so when I saw my local library had it I couldn’t resist.

There were many things I enjoyed and appreciated about this book. I know almost zero about the Ivory Coast, so this was a nice peek into the culture there and the history of what was going on in that country in the late seventies. In fact, it made me want to read more books set in the Ivory Coast – any suggestions anyone? I liked Aya as a heroine quite a bit. She was a smart and determined teenager, trying to do the right things, but she still had fun with her friends. She felt realistic to me. I liked the illustrations quite a bit; they really brought the story to life for me. Sometimes when I read a graphic novel, I think the story is better than the illustrations or vice versa, but not in this case. I felt the story and the illustrations complemented one another beautifully.

If you enjoy graphic novels, Aya is one that shouldn’t be missed.