Why I Chose this Book
I’ve been picking up more graphic novels recently. I decided to find some of the “best” graphic novels and read one or two from that list. On one list I found was Blankets by Craig Thompson.
Blankets is Craig Thompson’s autobiographical coming of age story told as a graphic novel. The book was published in 2003 and the artwork is hand drawn. Thompson doesn’t show traditional panels but excels in merging the fantasies of the characters with their realities. Fantasies were often what Thompson needed to get through his life growing up as an unpopular kid in Wisconsin in a working class and fundamentalist Christian household. As he matured, Thompson struggled to reconcile the differences between the beliefs he was raised with and his new understanding of the world. Thompson seamlessly guides the reader through these two main aspects of his young life.
Thompson also spends a significant portion of this novel on his first romance, which only lasted for a brief period of time. After meeting at a Christian summer camp, Craig and Raina, his first love, stay in contact and later, spend two weeks together. Although brief in time, the amount of focus spent on this two week period shows how much this moment impacted Thompson. Thompson’s artwork of and around Raina truly gives a sense of how much he cared for her.
This book was a very open look into Thompson’s young life. Thompson shares his lackluster social status at school, even enduring bullying. We get to see how his family was not of substantial means. He also admits to us that he wasn’t a good brother. It was interesting to see that drawing was something that he used to escape his reality as well as connect with his younger brother. Thompson’s depiction of his relationship with his brother was definitely a jewel of this novel as well. The funny and charming relationship between the two could have been a very entertaining novel by itself.
I, and it seems like many other readers, wonder whatever happened to Raina. Since 2003, Craig Thompson has yet to tell anyone publicly what happened to his first love. I was also curious to learn more about how Thompson felt and what did he think when he first began to realize how different life in the city is compared to his hometown during his visit to Raina’s home. I wonder how he later adjusted to life in the city when he moved out of his parent’s house. It’s interesting to me how our perspectives shift with new experiences.
Overall, Blankets is a good honest and open autobiography. Even though it’s a somewhat predictable coming-of-age story (which I can’t blame him too much for because he’s simply telling his life story or a version of it), because it’s told well, candid, and told with style, you won’t mind.