A seamless integration of art and feeling.

ALONE IN SPACE

A COLLECTION

In this dreamlike collection of previously published material, cartoonist Walden presents a series of thoughtful tales about home, belonging, and powerful emotion.

Jumping easily from genre to genre, this volume features the self-contained stories of a chronically ill boy and his family in their mansion during a yearslong winter, two closeted girls negotiating first love, and a young woman’s experience of giving up her supernatural life in the sky for a relationship on Earth. The collection also includes a number of shorter pieces created during Walden’s young adult years. Exhibiting a style that references Studio Ghibli and Winsor McCay, Walden displays an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre that gives depth to the not-quite-our-reality in which her characters find themselves. Each story plays skillfully with ideas of space and atmosphere, and the most fully realized relationships throughout the collection are those between the protagonists and their often surreal and fantastic environments. The visual vocabulary provides wonder while reflecting widely relatable feelings about changing, growing up, and being in the world. Serving as a wonderful entry point for teens new to graphic novels, this collection is a gemlike encapsulation of coming-of-age narratives in gorgeous settings touched with magic. What it sometimes lacks in nuance it makes up for in beauty and immediacy. Readers will be drawn into Walden’s surreal, empathetic universe. Most characters read as White.

A seamless integration of art and feeling. (gallery) (Graphic fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-910395-58-5

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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