It’s no secret that I love love. I’m a big fan. I melt when hearing other people’s love stories and cry easily whether at weddings, romantic books, movies, and television, or even artfully done credit card commercials. So, it is no wonder that Soppy by Philippa Rice was everything I’ve ever wanted out of a graphic novel love story.
Soppy is the visual representation of Rice’s relationship with her real-life boyfriend Luke. It details how they met (at what appears to be a comics convention). It shows the initial messages and the first dates. Most beautifully, it completely visualizes the ways in which one life becomes slowly but thoroughly intertwined with another.
It is a very subtle book told predominately through pictures rather than words. My favorite part is how it highlights all the quiet moments that are at the heart of any close, long-term relationship. Sure, there are big milestones, but there’s also making dinner and cups of tea. There’s integrating all of your stuff when you move in together (and all the things you learn about the other!). There’s the quiet time spent reading in the same room or watching movies, cuddling and sleeping, and just feeling satisfied with their presence whether you’re speaking or no. There’s all the ways you fit together like a puzzle (and some of the ways you don’t). There’s taking trips and running errands, making plans and planning surprises. It shows having fights and making up, the frustrations and tears. It details the sweet moments and the grumpy ones that lead to yet more sweetness. It’s an excellent representation of how certain aspects of a relationship become second nature: a wordless understanding. It embodies the serene simplicity that can come from that kind of closeness. It is one of the most heartwarming books I’ve ever read. At 106 pages and mostly without text, it is a quick read, but it is an endearing and emotional one. Rice is a very talented artist and her illustrations are full of detail and vibrancy worth poring over. I am quite enamored of her chosen color palette. It’s clear this book was a labor of love.
As a person in a committed relationship, I could identify with many of the sketches (both good and bad). I saw a lot of my own relationship mirrored in theirs, which is both strange and reassuring. If you are not in the mood for love, I could see this book being a bit unpalatable. It is all in the title. This is a sappy, soppy love story. But it is very cute and I very much recommend it.
In other news, spring has arrived! It’s been so nice out. Hooray! To celebrate, I cut about a foot of hair off my head.
It seemed like the thing to do. I’m enjoying the featherless feeling.
I’ve only ever read one other book by Sarah Waters and that was Fingersmith, which was excellent, so my hopes were really high for The Paying Guests, perhaps a little too high.
The Paying Guests is set after World War I in 1920s England in a quiet, upper class neighborhood, not untouched by the war. The Wrays have suffered much, both sons taken overseas and after Mr. Wray’s death, it is left to the spinster Frances Wray and her mother to look after the ailing house and their dwindling finances. The solution is to take on lodgers, paying guests, so to speak: Lilian and Leonard Barber, a young, married couple. But their entrance into Frances’ life leads to intrigue, secrets, and scandal.
Last Monday, I went to see Sufjan Stevens. It was an experience. We saw him at the historic Wang Theater, which was the ideal environment. It’s a gorgeous concert hall, all lovely carvings and gilded chandeliers. It seemed so appropriate for what he was playing. This was not a show to hoot and holler at. This was a respectful observation of a master at work. Neil, Mike, and I were up in the cheap seats, but I didn’t much mind being in the balcony (the theater has a really excellent ceiling). That high up, I felt like I could absorb the performance as a whole.
It’s hard to describe the experience of seeing him live. It was like living inside his music. It would rise and swell in such a way that it felt like I was absorbing the notes straight into my pores and the music was just becoming a part of my bloodstream. It was a very intense concert going experience. There was very little audience participation. From what I could tell, no one was singing (unless you count me mouthing the words quietly to myself). For the most part, we all sat in a hush, spellbound and hypnotized by what was happening on stage, pausing only to clap and scream wildly in approval. For most of the show, I could scarcely breathe. My eyes kept welling with tears. Everything was just so incredibly moving; the music was so amazing and genuine. It touched my soul. I don’t know how else to describe it. Also, the use of light and projection was fantastic. I felt like I was in another world. It was one of the most intimate concerts I have ever attended.
Growing up, summers felt impossible and infinite. Every day was taking you steps closer to a new school year, yet everything was golden. The sun was warm and time was yours to enjoy at your leisure: reading, running, playing, swimming. Summer nights were warm and full of laughter and secrets. There was nothing better than summer break, growing up. Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Honor and Michael L. Printz Honor, This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki is a young adult graphic novel that captures a single summer in the life of one Rose Wallace.
Rose and her parents spend every summer at Awago Beach, their home away from home. There Rose has her slightly younger, summer friend Windy as her companion and compatriot of the Awago experience. Everything begins the same, her dad cracking jokes, the air smelling sweet and salty, but something about this particular summer is different. Her parents, for one, won’t stop fighting, creating a constant tension. And Rose and Windy get ensnared by the local teens’ drama, a troubled and complicated tableaux the girls uncover little by little.
The novel is full of strong characters and engaging plot. It’s a quietly powerful book, slipping along at the pace of summer days, both languid and over before you know it. Awago is a magical place, an in between place, where time doesn’t quite match the outside world: it’s only sunny days, swimming, running, and gasping and laughing at scary movies with your friends. But the dark underbelly that plagues the novel is always surging beneath. It is a twisted pleasure to slowly uncover the secrets of Rose’s family and the heart of its unrest.