This graphic novel has been around for nearly a decade, so I am a little late to the party here. I’ve seen Blankets mentioned on many top ten graphic novels lists, and I finally got around to reading it today. It was worth the wait. Blankets is a terrific graphic novel about first love and loneliness, belief and disbelief. It tells the story of a young artist named Craig, the fictional stand-in for the author. Craig comes from a devout Christian home, but he feels alienated from his mother and father. He is similarly alienated by his pietistic teachers and his unthinking high school classmates. When he meets Raina, a beautiful non-conformist, he falls deeply in love. For a moment, all is well: Craig and Raina exchange letters, make each other gifts, and do the sorts of things that earnest young people who are in love generally do. Well, not that–Craig feels tormented by guilt over his sexual desire for Raina and they never go all the way.

What happens to Craig and Raina? Raina suddenly has too much to do–she takes care of two mentally impaired siblings, her parents are divorcing, and her sister frequently asks her to babysit. Craig is crushed. His faith also crumbles with the dissolution of the relationship.

And that’s about it. Except that there is much more. I’ll admit part was pure nostalgia for me: the author looks to be about my age, the cultural references (Grunge) resonate with me, and Craig reminds me a little of myself at 18. But beyond this, the novel is intimate, personal, and very real. It generates an unexpected emotional response.

Not sure it is ultimately teachable, though you might use it in upper-level high school. But it is worth checking out.