Blankets

by

Author: Craig Thompson

Title:  Blankets

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: Midwest

Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day

Plot Summary:  The story follows Craig’s life starting with him as a child dealing with ultra-religious conservative parents in a poor household.  The love/hate relationship he has with his younger brother is both funny and heartwarming, and includes some of the most touching parts of the story.  As Craig grows up religion plays a big part in his life.  It is on one of the trips to winter bible camp that he meets his first love Raina.  His questioning of religion and his experiences with things such as young love are major themes throughout the book and are what mold him into the man he is today.  The novel concludes with Craig as an adult, no longer a Christian, walking through the snow by himself musing over his life.  The heavy black and white art of the book is expressive as Craig uses the simplicity of the two colors to highlight the emotions of the scene.  Backgrounds seamlessly move from dark and ominous to light and free flowing as the emotions change.  The last line of the book elegantly summarizes the feeling of the novel as a whole, “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface, to make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.”

Subject Headings: Thompson, Craig, 1975-, Teenage boys, First loves, Evangelicalism, Brothers, Church, camps, Compulsive behavior in men, Childhood, Teenage artists, Teenage boy/girl relations, Separated, friends, relatives, etc., Belief and doubt, Artistic ability in children, New experiences

Appeal: Moving, compelling, bittersweet, candid, compassionate, earnest, emotionally-charged, evangelistic, gentle, heartwarming, introspective, nostalgic, thoughtful, familiar, introspective, realistic, well-drawn, character-centered, accessible

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: moving, nostalgic, emotionally-charged

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic  by Alison Bechdel

When Alison Bechdel was in college her father was killed by a car while crossing the road.  In this autobiographical work the narrative revolves around her father’s death and, a few months earlier, Alison learning her father was gay.  The book digs into Alison’s past to uncover her father’s secret life and the strings that connect father to daughter.  An emotionally charged graphic memoir that will appeal to fans of Blankets with its beautiful depiction of daily American life.

Epileptic by David B.

When David is 9 his older brother begins to suffer from epileptic seizures of devastating frequency and intensity.  The family moves from traditional treatments, which do no good, to mysticism, which fairs no better.  Eventually his brother embraces his illness as it gives him the excuse to never have to deal with adult life.  David’s parents grow more and more upset as all options to treat their son disappear one by one.  Meanwhile David withdraws into his artwork to have conversations with his growing posse of imaginary friends.   Similar to Blankets with the relationship the two brothers had with each other.

Stitches  by David Small

Stitches is the memoir of David Small telling the story of his childhood in 1950’s Detroit.  His mother is a stern woman with a dark mood who expresses her feelings with soft coughs and the slamming of cabinet doors in the kitchen.  His father is a cold silent radiologist who believes in the power of science so much he treats his son’s sinus problems with doses of x-rays.  When David is 11 a lump on his neck is discovered but because of a tight family budget he is not treated right away.  After his father gets a promotion his parents go on a spending spree; buying a new car and lavish furniture to keep up the pretense that they are part of the upper class.  It is not until David is 14 that his parents finally bring him in to get the growth removed.  When he wakes up not only is the growth gone but so is his Thyroid and half his vocal cords.  This leaves him with a gash on his neck, “slashed and laced back up like a bloody boot”, effectively making him a mute.  Through this experience David tries to find his voice physically and mentally while dealing with a largely unattached and emotionless family.  A graphic memoir that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened reader.   David, just like Craig in Blankets, finds his true voice while struggling to leave the shadow of his family’s beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This story has been told before; struggling artists in New York just trying to make it in this crazy world.  What Alex Robinson does with the story is brilliant.  Every character is so well fleshed out you would swear you had met them before in your own life.  There are no good guys and no bad guys in this story, just real people with real problems doing the best he or she can.  The feel of the story and the realistic characters will appeal to fans of Blankets.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The story starts with Polyp whose apartment was recently set on fire due to a freak lightning strike.  He manages to salvage some things from his apartment and goes as far away from his old life as possible.   Obsessed with his past and what led him to such a miserable existence Asterios begins his new life as a mechanic and starts to, even though he doesn’t realize it at first, let go of his old life and renew himself.   Will appeal to people who enjoyed the setting of Blankets

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

A collection of four stories from Adian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series.  Slice of life stories all taking place in California and starring twenty-somethings trying to find love, or just any sort of human connection.  The title story is about a boy who has a crush on the cute girl behind the counter of his local general store.  Every day he buys a greeting card from her but never musters up the courage to actually ask her out until it’s too late.  His womanizing neighbor starts going out with her and all the boy is left with is a large pile of cards and a broken heart.  Adrian’s characters are flawed everyday individuals filled with insecurities and misguided intentions that no one would notice in a crowd.  Tales of love lost and romance gone wrong will appeal to fans of the love story in Blankets.

Name: Jason Rock

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