Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
by Mariko Tamaki
Freddy finds herself in an on-again, off-again relationship with the impossibly cool Laura Dean, who, surely not by accident, has an air of James Dean about her, from her floppy hair to her slouchy posture to her piercing gaze. Freddy feels invincible in Laura’s orbit, and even after things truly go wrong, like when Laura sneaks off to make out with other girls, Freddy’s inexorably lured back in. Freddy’s friends range from dismayed to resigned, but none so much as Doodle, who’s dealing with problems of their own and desperately needs a friend. Freddy’s emails to an advice columnist offer insight into her thoughts and feelings, which are further telegraphed in the stunning artwork, which masterfully captures the mood with gestures and facial expressions, from Freddy curled into herself behind a curtain of her thick black hair to Doodle focused intently on their Dungeons and Dragons plans. Shifting perspectives and soft pink washes give the artful black-ink artwork a cinematic feel. Tamaki (This One Summer, 2015) truly gets to the heart of the struggle to balance the intoxicating allure of being loved by someone thrilling and a desire for a healthy, autonomous sense of identity, all in pitch-perfect teen dialogue. Touching gently but powerfully on topics of bullying, homophobia, and toxic relationships, this superb graphic novel has its finger on the pulse of teenage concerns.
Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2019).
First Second. May 7, 2019. 304 pages. HS.
Book Summary from Booklist starred (April 15, 2019).