Written by: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrated by: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
For ages: YA graphic novel
Topics Covered: LGBTQ Relationships, Love, Friendship, Social-Emotional Development.
Summary: Super quick read, I read this in about an hour! The story is told from the perspective of Freddy, a biracial Asian teenage girl. Freddy is hopelessly in love with Laura Dean, her on-again off-again unfaithful girlfriend. Laura is a suave, blond, Shane-esque (from the L-Word) character who seems to like Freddy, but not enough to not continuously cheat on her with other girls. To the reader, it is clear that Laura keeps Freddy around for when Laura doesn’t have plans, or is bored. She is cocky and flirtatious, often found having trysts in closets with other girls. In attempt to clarify what the relationship means, Freddy writes to a love advice columnist for help. These emails are interspersed within the scenes of daily life with Freddy, her best friend Doodle (who is going through her own emotional issues unbeknownst to Freddy), and a few other queer friends.
As Freddy navigates life, and makes a new queer friend that invites her to a party, Freddy also invites Laura. Laura never answers her texts, but Freddy sees her at the party kissing another girl. Finally, Doodle calls Freddy out and gets honest with Freddy about how she has been ignoring their friendship because of Laura. Doodle has slept with a married man, and is planning to get an abortion. This is a really great story, getting to the quick of the emotional complexities that often accompany relationships and their impact on friendships. It is a relief to be able to read queer stories where everyone is already out, and the focus can be on other nuances of the story-line rather than the coming out process itself. Highly recommend!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Mariko Tamaki is the author of the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole and the co-creator of award winning comics This One Summer and Skim (with Jillian Tamaki), and Emiko Superstar (Steve Rolston). In 2015, This One Summer received Printz and Caldecott Honors, the Eisner for Best Graphic Album–New, and Canada’s Governor General’s award. Mariko maintains a solid fascination with the complex process by which teenagers become, or try to become, grown ups.
She has also written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics, working with She-Hulk and Supergirl.
Mariko Tamaki began her career as a playwright and performance artist in Toronto, Ontario, working with fat activists Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off and performing and writing plays for Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a world leader in developing queer voices for the stage. Her first film, “Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin,” premiered at the Inside Out Festival in 2013.
In addition to her literary work, Mariko holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies and worked for two years on a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology. Her academic research focused on accents used in drag cabaret performances. Her research inspired an ongoing obsession with the way people talk. You can follow her on Twitter.
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is a cartoonist and illustrator with a BFA in Comic Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was raised in Zaragoza, Spain, but now lives in a little apartment in the ice and snow of Minnesota, self-publishing her books and working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. Rosemary’s work has been featured in comics anthologies, in galleries, and on many poster designs for MONDO. Rosemary’s one-shot comic What Is Left (ShortBox) was recently nominated for two Eisner Awards: Best Single Issue and Best Coloring. Rosemary is currently working on the upcoming Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me for First Second. With her intelligent designs and heartfelt storytelling, this young artist has a bright future ahead.