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Blankets by Craig Thompson

2021.07.17 17:09



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Blankets

by Craig Thompson 4.04 · Rating details · 103,697 ratings · 6,860 reviews Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

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IndieBound Libraries Paperback , 592 pages Published August 18th 2003 by Top Shelf Productions (first published July 23rd 2003) More Details Original Title Blankets ISBN 1891830430 (ISBN13: 9781891830433 ) Edition Language English Characters Craig , Phil , Raina Setting Wisconsin (United States)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (United States)

Literary Awards Harvey Awards for Best Graphic Album of Original Work, Best Artist (for Craig Thompson), & Best Cartoonist (for Craig Thompson) (2004) , Salón Internacional del Cómic de Barcelona for Premio del público a la mejor obra extranjera (2005) , Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Graphic Album–New (2004) Other Editions (45) All Editions | Add a New Edition | Combine Less Detail Edit Details

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To ask other readers questions about Blankets , please sign up . Popular Answered Questions is this Graphic novel age appropriate for teens? 2 likes · like 5 years ago See all 11 answers Christian Mellbris I've used this book as class-reading material for my literature classes. My pupils are 15-19 years old and most of them thoroughly enjoyed it. …more I've used this book as class-reading material for my literature classes. My pupils are 15-19 years old and most of them thoroughly enjoyed it. (less) flag Though not a prude, I can t help but think the nudity and related scenes are too much for high school level young adults Anyone else? 5 likes · like 4 years ago See all 3 answers Julie Strømsvold Not really. I found this book perfect for that age, as it raises a lot of questions people at that point in their life ask, and shows the author chara …more Not really. I found this book perfect for that age, as it raises a lot of questions people at that point in their life ask, and shows the author character going through them. We had this in our high school library, which was where I discovered it. It left a lasting impression with me in the best way possible, for being deep, beautiful and honest. Though to be fair I live in a country that considers nudity no big deal, and I've grown up with the frame of mind that hiding unsexualized naked bodies from children, especially teens, is unnecessary and perpetuates body shaming. I didn't even remember there being nudity in this until I reread it recently, so clearly that part didn't leave any lasting damages. (less) flag See all 10 questions about Blankets…

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Showing 1-30 Average rating 4.04 · Rating details · 103,697 ratings · 6,860 reviews

More filters | Sort order Start your review of Blankets Write a review Jun 28, 2007 Seth T. rated it it was amazing Shelves: comics , bookclub Craig Thompson, for all the lack of works in his bibliography, is one of the best creators working in comics today. Apart from Blankets , he has only released one other major work of fiction. (His third, Habibi , will be released this Fall.)


[The cutest of meet-cutes.]

There are any number of reasons that Thompson's work should be lauded. His art is gorgeous and his brushline expressive. He treats personal topics with a sense of both whimsy and honesty. He writes true experiences, even when the
Craig Thompson, for all the lack of works in his bibliography, is one of the best creators working in comics today. Apart from Blankets , he has only released one other major work of fiction. (His third, Habibi , will be released this Fall.)


[The cutest of meet-cutes.]

There are any number of reasons that Thompson's work should be lauded. His art is gorgeous and his brushline expressive. He treats personal topics with a sense of both whimsy and honesty. He writes true experiences, even when they're fictional. And as great as all those things are, there is one idea that stands out in his work that I've yet to see another creator tackle (let alone master) as Thompson has done.

His sense of the sacred and his ability to convey it in ink is breathtaking. He offers his readers these holy moments, these frozen, fluid, organic treasures. These sacramentals. Whether he intends to lead the reader into a religious experience or not, his work really is very spiritual. As spiritual as an atheistic holy experience can actually be at any rate. There may be moments in Miyazaki that approach the wonder of the sanctuaries that Thompson builds in Blankets . It's for this reason (among others) that Thompson's second book remains one of my favourites, even years after having first encountered it.

The sweetly disturbing sentimental journey that was seeded years earlier in Thompson's Goodbye Chunky Rice finds pregnant fruit in his nearly-600-page opus, Blankets . Semi-autobiographically chronicling (via chrono-thematic structuring) his early life—from his establishment in faith and his discovery of love to his abandonment of that love and his subsequent abandonment of faith—Thompson plays honestly at all times with his story elements, thereby lending his tale an uncanny credibility. And while flashbacks and tangents proliferate, the overarching chiastic structure verifies the reader's intuition that Thompson knows well where he is headed and is going to take you there whether you like it or not.


[Kinda want to punch this lady right in the breadbox.]

Thompson's illustrated avatar acts, at all times, with striking realism and the chaos of his thoughts is entirely believable—if not exactly illustrative of the average meditative development. The Thompson that frets and plays in Blankets —we'll call him Craig— is highly introspective and acts often in the heat of his youthful emotional turmoil, rather than from a simple, sensible motivation. And though one may often wish to chastise him for such sillinesses, his youthful passion and pendular over-reactions will more than likely endear Craig to readers as they recognize more than a little of themselves in him.

This book is a masterpiece of form, symbol, and structure. Tokens bend and writhe and carry narrative significance throughout. Thompson's art here is fluid and is of that less-polished variety found also in Goodbye Chunky Rice and serves well to establish the variety of moods described in his several vignettes.



From the perspective of one who grew up both in a faith-community that was friendlier to the arts and in a home whose high standards weren't as strictly enforced, I found his story particularly compelling and tragic. Surrounded by hypocrisy and a weak-kneed, moralistic fundamentalism, the source of his disillusionment is not difficult to see. Perhaps Blankets ' greatest quality is the empathy it exerts from the reader. I pitied and cared for Craig. I felt the same for his brother, his parents. I mourned for Raina, Craig's love interest in the book. I grew despondent for her family. More than anything, I wanted to hug each of these characters and make it all right and sensible again.


[Man, how brutal to be Thompson's parents, years later to read this panel
and think: "Oh crap. I did that to a child? I wanted to surprise him and
all he could think about was whether he had sinned? And not even whether
he was in trouble but whether he had sinned?"]


And the whole while, my anger kindled toward an institutionalization of faith whose expression was not compassion, not mercy, not love. That Craig lived in a locale whose cutural acumen was bent toward a fear and persecution of that which skewed from the status quo is a horror that can be understood (while still remaining a horror). That his subculture should behave identically, built on a foundation of fear when it ought to be built on joy, peace, and love is terrifying. Thompson's work engaged in me a fury for a people and place with which I have no experience. They may not even exist as he portrayed them, but at the least, it is a challenge for me to not hate these characters who actively tear down Craig's life even from a young age. And as someone who actively tries not to hate anyone, consider this a testament to the veracity with which Thompson draws out Craig's life and circumstance.

Blankets is an evocative work that should not be missed by any who would appreciate a serious, heartfelt, and magical telling of the tragedy and wonder of what it means to come of age.



[review courtesy of Good Ok Bad ]
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flag 227 likes · Like · see review View all 5 comments Aug 25, 2012 Dave Schaafsma rated it it was amazing Shelves: best-books-ever , best-graphic-lit-ever , gn-ya , best-ya-ever , spiritual , gn-sex , nature , eng-305-sum-16 , religion , ya-spring-2014 Every year I teach this book in my YA course it comes up as one of the top three favorite texts in the course. I might go so far as to say it is one of the top ten or twenty graphic novels of all time. Powerful, gorgeous, touching, expressive, it’s among other things a meditation on first or young love, with sweeping and /or anguished art accomplished in the romantic tradition, with all the emotional highs and lows of young love. Thompson’s story might be described as autobiographical fiction; s Every year I teach this book in my YA course it comes up as one of the top three favorite texts in the course. I might go so far as to say it is one of the top ten or twenty graphic novels of all time. Powerful, gorgeous, touching, expressive, it’s among other things a meditation on first or young love, with sweeping and /or anguished art accomplished in the romantic tradition, with all the emotional highs and lows of young love. Thompson’s story might be described as autobiographical fiction; set in Wisconsin, where he grew up with his controlling parents and his brother Phil, art and fantasy (he calls it dreaming) are his escapes.

Craig can’t choose what he reads or sees on television. His father is a tyrant. His primary escapes are his drawing, nature, and play/fantasy with his brother. He for a time willingly turns to his parents’ religion as a kind of escape from the world, with that promise of Heaven, and considers the encouragement from his pastor that he, a thoughtful, earnest boy, follow the ministerial calling. But it's a promise also filled with dark threats of Hell; at one point, led by a suggestion from his teachers that art is selfish, un-Christian, the darkly intense Craig burns all of his artwork.

16, at a Bible summer camp, Craig meets and falls in love with Raina, a kind of ethereal beauty whom he fancies is like him, a loner, into nature, increasingly less into organized religion. And he’s physically attracted to her, which is something he struggles with against the backdrop of a religion that forbids this very attraction as the sin of lust. After camp they exchange letters and he visits her upper Michigan home for almost a week. She makes a quilt--a blanket--for him, that becomes an emblem of their relationship; in return he paints a tree on her wall with the two of them in it. They have some physical and emotional engagements, and they fall sweetly in love.

I have now read Blankets a few times. In the last reading and review I had developed the idea—I am sure informed by others reading with me—that the girl, Raina, is never quite real for Craig, almost completely idealized, a creation by him of what it is he needs to escape from his oppressive circumstances, his conservative family, his being bullied at school. Throughout the book we increasingly see Raina with a halo, angelic, and I thought: This is an indication of his idealized, entirely romantic view of her. While I think this escape theory is true in some sense, I have come back around to Seth Hahne’s view of the book, that Craig’s view of Raina—her individualism, her body/sexuality, her responsibility for her two special needs brothers and sisters--is part of the construction of his view of her as sacred. Craig really does love Raina, and she is part of his constructing a more positive, human, embodied spirituality. He still believes in God, he still knows the Bible, but he reads the sacred in the world increasingly as different than the fundamentalist upbringing he was limited to. His is a personal spirituality, not group-think religion. The sacred he sees in the world in time comes to re-include his art as meaning-making; thus the book we read, Blankets. Art, like spirituality, emerges out of patterns, like the blanket of the title, like a blanket of clouds in the sky, a patchwork quilt of personal characteristics and commitments, wrapped around you in beauty and warmth.

The artwork in Blankets is also a patchwork quilt of gorgeous, sweeping, romantic images of the natural world (snow, trees, weather), likening it to patterns in Raina’s dress and hair, open and free and spacious and lovely in contrast to the darker, more sinister patches of his oppressive house and Sunday school. There’s also an emblem or mark that weaves its way through the book, present whenever Craig recognizes something as sacred. At one point that essentially Calvinist-raised Craig even forgives himself enough for his transgressions to even share a halo with Raina. Through her. rather than earn Hell, he achieves the sacred with her for a time.

Spoiler alert: When they part, however, as most 16 year-old romances conclude, Craig is still darkly intense in, as with his art, earlier, burning all the artifacts and letters Raina as shared with him. He imagines erasing, white-washing, the very painting he has made for Raina. All memories gone, is his goal. Except the blanket, thank goodness, which becomes the basis for the book, and his embrace of the lovely, sweeping patchwork quilt of storytelling that is his style.

Blankets is a gorgeously expressive, exquisitely drawn book about first love, religion, family, art, nature, memory, blankets. It’s also at times a dark book filled with angst and fears, regarding the repressive legacies of some religions, and also a gorgeous, swirling romantic sweep of a book. He is one anguished dude, this young Craig, so complicated and messed up by religion and family, and yet he also dedicates the book to his family, with love, and also makes it clear that the sacred remains important for him and others. A must read, and a beautiful work of art.

Craig Thompson interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oumak
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flag 215 likes · Like · see review View all 22 comments Feb 25, 2010 Rauf rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: The melancholics Shelves: 2010-list , big_expensive_comics , imaginary-library , fiction Here are seven lines from Blankets that pretty much sums up the story:

1. I couldn't fathom that the soul trapped in my child body would be transplanted to its grotesque adolescent counterpart.

2. But in that little pathetic clump of blankets there was comfort.

3. We both knew that nothing existed for us outside of the moment.

4. Maybe I'm sad about wanting you. I'm not too comfortable with wanting someone.

5. Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with.

6. How satisfying it
Here are seven lines from Blankets that pretty much sums up the story:

1. I couldn't fathom that the soul trapped in my child body would be transplanted to its grotesque adolescent counterpart.

2. But in that little pathetic clump of blankets there was comfort.

3. We both knew that nothing existed for us outside of the moment.

4. Maybe I'm sad about wanting you. I'm not too comfortable with wanting someone.

5. Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with.

6. How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement--no matter how temporary.

7. Even a mistake is better than nothing.
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flag 204 likes · Like · see review View all 10 comments Oct 24, 2007 Jace rated it it was ok Shelves: comics Having produced this illustrated autobiography of his formative years, Thompson certainly deserves credit for an ambitious undertaking. His illustrations are the shining accomplishment of this book; cartoony, yet humanly realistic, they exude a youthful enthusiasm. Definitely a memorable drawing style, it almost makes Blankets worth a read in-and-of-itself.

Though well intentioned, I felt that the plot of Blankets fell short of what it promised. The bulk of the story revolves around the author
Having produced this illustrated autobiography of his formative years, Thompson certainly deserves credit for an ambitious undertaking. His illustrations are the shining accomplishment of this book; cartoony, yet humanly realistic, they exude a youthful enthusiasm. Definitely a memorable drawing style, it almost makes Blankets worth a read in-and-of-itself.

Though well intentioned, I felt that the "plot" of Blankets fell short of what it promised. The bulk of the story revolves around the author's hokey two-week-long love affair with a girl he met at church camp. Though his first encounter with love may have been earth-shaking for the author, he fails to convey this. It reads more like 400 [illustrated] pages of masturbatory teen-angst. At times I had to check the title page to make sure I wasn't accidentally reading Dawson's Creek: The Graphic Novel . To make matters even more cliche, he has one character invoke the lines from The Cure's "Just Like Heaven". Yes, it's a great song, but it feeds right into the sappiness I felt mired in for most of the story. I also felt assaulted by the religious overtones in the book. For 500-some pages of his childhood, Thompson is a Jesus-freak, but in the last 5 pages we learn that by his early twenties he has abandoned Christianity. It would have been nice if the author would have shared more of his transformation with the reader. I'm sure it was a momentous change for the author, but the lack of explanation makes it seem almost arbitrary.

Blankets has a few redeeming qualities, such as Thompson's flashbacks to his childhood in the room he shared with his little brother. They build forts, sail pirate ships, explore haunted caves, etc. These scenes really showcase his humor, creativity, and flair for storytelling. Though light and emotionally unburdoned, they conveyed more personality than the love story he focused on for most of the book. Additionally, the author introduces a few "darker" moments, such as a babysitter who sexually abused him and his brother. It's a testament to the uncensored honesty in his storytelling.

Overall, it was a quick read and worth the time. It was nice change of pace from sci-fi and superhero graphic novels. But pick it up from the local library or borrow it from a friend. I wouldn't advise anyone to spend $29.95 for this bible-sized comic book.
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flag 104 likes · Like · see review View all 6 comments Jun 15, 2015 Whitney Atkinson rated it it was amazing · review of another edition Shelves: favorites , graphic-novels , read-in-2015 , need-to-reread I just read this in one sitting. Incredible. First graphic novel i've given 5 full stars to. I just read this in one sitting. Incredible. First graphic novel i've given 5 full stars to. more flag 93 likes · Like · see review View 1 comment Feb 16, 2020 Candi rated it really liked it Shelves: ni-book-voyage , graphic-novel As a child, I thought that life was the most horrible world anyone could ever live in, and that there HAD to be something better.

Wow! If that isn’t the most heartbreaking thought any child could harbor… And yet, that is exactly what graphic novelist Craig Thompson tells us in this poignant and beautifully drawn book. Actually, in some way, his words really resonate with me. I wouldn’t say ‘most horrible’ would be a true statement, but most definitely many moments that I could fairly call ‘disp
"As a child, I thought that life was the most horrible world anyone could ever live in, and that there HAD to be something better."

Wow! If that isn’t the most heartbreaking thought any child could harbor… And yet, that is exactly what graphic novelist Craig Thompson tells us in this poignant and beautifully drawn book. Actually, in some way, his words really resonate with me. I wouldn’t say ‘most horrible’ would be a true statement, but most definitely many moments that I could fairly call ‘dispiriting’ or ‘bewildering.’ Childhood was a thing to be gotten through as quickly as possible so that the more promising stage of adulthood could be achieved.

Graphic novels are basically non-existent in my literary diet, so it’s difficult for me to review this one. I really have no ‘gold standard’ against which to compare. However, I can say that I found this one impressive. As Craig leads us through his path from childhood to adulthood, many themes are examined. Tough themes. The things that happen to us and make us who we are today. Nothing is brushed over lightly, including religious fundamentalism, child abuse, bullying, divorce, disabilities, faith, and first love. Thank goodness for those special people in our lives who help us to make it through the torment of childhood and the teen years. But even those relationships have their trials and mistakes, and at some point good things may come to an end. ‘First love’ has a certain connotation to it, doesn’t it? It’s not something I’d want to live through again, that’s for sure. Despite the sweetness of the term, it can be confusing and agonizing whether it ends abruptly or fades away slowly.

In my opinion, a lot of what happens to Craig and the decisions he ultimately makes are a result of the religious fundamentalism that was a big part of his life. What impacted me the most was watching the change in this young man’s faith. I mean this literally too, as the graphics are so illuminating and emotive. Words were not always necessary to convey what was going on in Craig’s mind. When we do have the opportunity to read his thoughts, I found them quite powerful.

"I felt lonely again, and then used that loneliness as my fuel."

Now that I’ve seen what can be done with this medium of expression, I will give it another try. I have a handful of graphic novels on my to-read list, and I feel more encouraged to get to them. From one novice to another, this one is a great introduction to the genre.
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flag 83 likes · Like · see review View all 42 comments Jul 22, 2019 Swaroop rated it liked it Craig Thompson's autobiographical tale Blankets is touching, interesting and an honest account, but it feels like there's too much of outdated not-from-these-times touch to the storyline. The artwork is indeed beautiful and delightful.

But in that little pathetic clump of blankets, there was comfort.
Craig Thompson's autobiographical tale Blankets is touching, interesting and an honest account, but it feels like there's too much of outdated not-from-these-times touch to the storyline. The artwork is indeed beautiful and delightful.

"But in that little pathetic clump of blankets, there was comfort."
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flag 77 likes · Like · see review Jun 19, 2020 Julie rated it really liked it Shelves: reading-road-trip-2020 , graphic , coming-of-age , wisconsin Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Wisconsin

Have you ever been in love?



your little voice
                    Over the wires came leaping
and i felt suddenly
dizzy
     With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers
wee skipping high-heeled flames
courtesied before my eyes

--ee cummings

Do you remember the exuberance of love, especially first love? The dilated pupils, the irrational desire to follow the pheromones wherever they may lead you, the unpredictability of aroused body parts?

I doubt you ha
Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Wisconsin

Have you ever been in love?



your little voice
                    Over the wires came leaping
and i felt suddenly
dizzy
     With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers
wee skipping high-heeled flames
courtesied before my eyes

--ee cummings

Do you remember the exuberance of love, especially first love? The dilated pupils, the irrational desire to follow the pheromones wherever they may lead you, the unpredictability of aroused body parts?

I doubt you have forgotten, and perhaps you feel that way right at this moment (lucky you), but, in case it's been a long time, Craig Thompson's memoir of his first love will you take you right back to that place, and quickly.

It's not all about love here. This memoir also gives you a great feel for Wisconsin in winter (cold), sibling rivalry (lots of urine), a sexually abusive babysitter (disgusting) and religious fundamentalist parents (thank God I didn't have them).

(Lots of little penises on display here as well, and, later, some fantastic nipples. This is a YA or an adult read and not appropriate for younger readers).



She was the most beautiful
complicated
thing
I'd ever seen--
a tangled mess
of silky string--
and all I wanted of life
was to sit
down
cross-legged
and untie
her
knots
.
--Atticus

This is a sensual celebration of what it feels like to have the wind knocked out of you by love. I never felt cheated by this story; it seems like incredibly honest storytelling and I can not imagine the work that went into 582 pages of writing and illustrating this graphic novel. Craig Thompson published this when he was 30 years old and you can feel the energy and the testosterone. It was clearly a labor of love.

I want to stand once more as in my
first love, leaning on the doorpost
embracing you all night long, standing.
When we left at early dusk the house
started to crumble and collapse
and since then the town
and since then the whole world
.
--Yehuda Amichai
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flag 69 likes · Like · see review View all 48 comments Dec 02, 2018 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it Shelves: graphic-novelly-stuff , memoirs Nothing like reading a 580 page book in two and a bit hours to make you think you’ve had a productive day. It probably took Craig Thompson 10 years of hard graft, and after two hours I just snap my fingers & say yeah, loved that – next!

Wow, I wish I could steam through non-graphic novels at the same speed – imagine scything through The Brothers Caramel or Moby Duck or Remembrance of Things Past, cutting through swathes of these vast 19th century hulks like a hijacked speedboat through a public
Nothing like reading a 580 page book in two and a bit hours to make you think you’ve had a productive day. It probably took Craig Thompson 10 years of hard graft, and after two hours I just snap my fingers & say yeah, loved that – next!

Wow, I wish I could steam through non-graphic novels at the same speed – imagine scything through The Brothers Caramel or Moby Duck or Remembrance of Things Past, cutting through swathes of these vast 19th century hulks like a hijacked speedboat through a public swimming area, like a dentist’s drill through a dentist.

I approached Blankets with caution – it looked like a soppy romance and that’s not my cup of chicken liver pate. And it was too – lurve at its ultrateen slurpiest. Sample dialogue:

Her : What a WONDERFUL tree you’ve painted.
Him : This is US in the branches.
Her : Even though it’s cold outside, it’s warm in this tree.

Or if that seems reasonable

Him : I love you, Raina…
Her: OH CRAIG…

So imagine my surprise when I found myself being hurled along these swirling rapids of youthful open heart surgery like a stick in a game of uncomfortably prurient Poohsticks. I believed in Craig and Raina and their awkward families. I believed in the immediate passion and the swift fizzle. And I liked all the Christian stuff – the charm of the quaint idea of a teenage boy in the 1990s telling himself that even kissing a girl is probably wrong.

Craig gets very detailed about some things, but remains aggravatingly vague about other things that you really wanna know about. Like the weird thing with the babysitter. What was the babysitter doing with Craig & his little brother?? Not too sure.

And the ending was rushed as if someone had said Craig, you have to stop now- NOW! STOP!

Aside from that, pretty great.

Not recommended for those suffering from type 2 diabetes.
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flag 66 likes · Like · see review View all 4 comments Aug 12, 2015 Kelly (and the Book Boar) rated it liked it Shelves: everyone-loved-it-but-me , liburrrrrry-book , pretty-on-the-outside , read-in-2016 , pitcherbooks Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Contrary jerkoff party of 1? I’m here I’m here! While a 3 Star rating is most definitely a perfectly fine rating – in this case I am one of a handful amongst my friends who dared to not give 4 or 5. Allow me a moment to ‘splain myself. If I were judging solely on the artwork I would break the GR rating system and allot Blankets 10. I mean seriously it begins right at the cover . . .



Très belle! And for those of you who have develop
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Contrary jerkoff party of 1? I’m here I’m here! While a 3 Star rating is most definitely a perfectly fine rating – in this case I am one of a handful amongst my friends who dared to not give 4 or 5. Allow me a moment to ‘splain myself. If I were judging solely on the artwork I would break the GR rating system and allot Blankets 10. I mean seriously it begins right at the cover . . .



Très belle! And for those of you who have developed a love for the grown-up coloring book? You could defile the crap out of Mr. Thompson’s creation : )



The reason my rating is low is because I just didn’t get it. I mean, I got it. Farts. This isn’t going well. Okay, so Blankets was not difficult to understand. It was a coming-of-age story about a boy and went from his early childhood and superbadawful things (*sad face*) to his über religious adolescence and eventually finding a bit of who he wanted to be in early adulthood. The part I don’t get is why an autobiography? Maybe it’s just because I had never heard of Craig Thompson before (be gentle, I’m still a graphic novel noob), but this might have worked better for me if it was about a fictional character. I don't get the trend of everyone thinking their life story is something worth writing about and while Thompson did have a superbad happen, it was barely a blip on the over 600 pages contained in this book. FOR ME there just wasn’t a whole lot of story (aside from an excuse to show readers more beautiful art) for it to be so voluminous.

Anyway, obviously it’s just me and I read this wrong. Go read Carmen’s review instead. She’s good at words – even when those words are about a “pitcherbook” ; )

As for me? I’ll be trying to track down a copy of Habibi because . . . .



Wow. This dude is seriously goooooooood at the black and white.
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flag 64 likes · Like · see review View all 14 comments Jan 18, 2016 Algernon (Darth Anyan) rated it really liked it Shelves: comics , 2016
It's beautiful!



A quilt made of memories, bad and good, side by side sketches about growing up in a small town in Wisconsin; about sharing a room with a younger brother; about surviving school days with merciless bullying; about finding solace in religion; about a boy who meets a girl; about disfunctional families and people with disabilities; about being an artist and about the power of imagination, about the purity of first love reflected in the purity of snow; about losing your religion and

It's beautiful!



A quilt made of memories, bad and good, side by side sketches about growing up in a small town in Wisconsin; about sharing a room with a younger brother; about surviving school days with merciless bullying; about finding solace in religion; about a boy who meets a girl; about disfunctional families and people with disabilities; about being an artist and about the power of imagination, about the purity of first love reflected in the purity of snow; about losing your religion and losing your inocence about beauty and sadness and time turning the pure white snow into a sea of dirty slush; and about the precious few things you can salvage, like a quilt of many shapes and colours



I am such a big fan of Craig Thompson's second graphic novel ("Habibi") that I was actually afraid to start on his first one, lest I be disappointed. I should have had more faith in the artist and in his talent to capture emotions and existential angst in his images and in his confessional words, because this debut is just as good. The artwork may seem naive and unsophisticated at first glance, especially if it is compared with the carefully rendered arabesques of his Arabian Tales in Habibi, but I believe this style suits the story in Blankets better : it reflects on the beginnings of the artist, with the first childhood primitive drawings and the later jagged edges and raw passion of adolescence. Same goes for the decision to use black and white panels - with the white empty spaces of snow and the dark corners of trauma. The only time Thompson is really careful with his artwork is in the portrayal of his muse Raina, always beautiful and dreamy like an angel fallen among mortals. I could detect some homage paid to Bill Waterson and some echoes of Henry Rousseau, but Craig Thompson is an authentic and powerful voice in the adult comic market, well worth a try for anybody who still belives that comics are all about superheroes in spandex.



"Blankets is my first graphic novel of 2016, and I feel I am on the right path. I hope the next albums I try will be equal to the high expectations set by Craig Thompson. And I hope he will write more of these wonderful tales.


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flag 54 likes · Like · see review View 2 comments Jan 28, 2017 Maciek rated it liked it Shelves: graphic-novels , reviewed , read-in-2017 I first read about Blankets in an article on the history of graphic novels, where it was mentioned as one of the signature examples of the form - along famous works such as Art Spiegelman's Maus (Interestingly, Spiegelman liked the book, and sent the author a congratulatory letter after publication). Blankets was offered as an example of a serious and important work, which helped define the term and give it meaning and significance - by telling a mature and largely autobiographical story it help I first read about Blankets in an article on the history of graphic novels, where it was mentioned as one of the signature examples of the form - along famous works such as Art Spiegelman's Maus (Interestingly, Spiegelman liked the book, and sent the author a congratulatory letter after publication). Blankets was offered as an example of a serious and important work, which helped define the term and give it meaning and significance - by telling a mature and largely autobiographical story it helped distance the graphic novel from a stereotype of a comic book for children. I've never read anything by Craig Thomson before, so when the opportunity presented itself I chose to take it and dove right in.

I started reading Blankets in the evening of one day, and finished in the morning of the next one, taking a break only because I had to go to sleep. Because of the nature of its form, this 600 page book can finished in one sitting - inspired by the title; in a favorite, comfortable chair, with a big cup of warm tea or cocoa nearby, allowing the book to wrap itself around you like a warm blanket.

As mentioned, Thomson's work is almost 600 pages long ,but never feels like it because of the fluidity of his storytelling and his skills as an artist. Never does Blankets feel slow or uninspired; never does it feel boring. Thomson managed to take his own growing up in small town, rural Wisconsin in a conservative, evangelical Christian family and make it interesting to the reader - I do not know where the book exceeds the limits of autobiography (or if it does it at all), but I was engaged all the way throughout it and was simply interested in learning what will happen next.

Blankets chronicles the childhood and adolescence of the author/protagonist Craig, and all the struggles that come with it: having to share a room with his younger brother, his devotion and struggle to live according to Biblical principles in a complicated word, and eventually his first love, Raina. This is a very sentimental story of personal origins, to which many of us will be able to relate in one way or another - who has never experienced confusion in a complicated world, or fallen intensely in love at a young age? The author captures these feelings very well, even though he undoubtedly looks at parts of his own youth with rose-tinted glasses and romanticizes the heck out of it - some of the situations and conversations that his protagonist have are just way too convenient and dramatic. Still, it is a very engaging and genuinely heartwarming story where we like the protagonists and want the best for them.



However, this is not a perfect book; unfortunately it has flaws, and even major ones. While it is very well written and drawn, it is not as perfect as the enthusiastic reviews made it out to be; some of its flaws are just too major and obvious to ignore. Thomson published Blankets when he was just 28 years old; it can be argued that at this age an author simply does not have a reason to publish a memoir , unless his experience was truly unique and memoir-worthy, and a book can help analyze it in depth and provide readers with valuable lessons and insights. The problem with Blankets lies in the fact that it does not do that - the religious aspect of the book is very skin-deep; late in the book Craig has to confront his religious beliefs as a new adult, and the matter is simply left unresolved; the entire struggle that he has experienced throughout the book is left alone and abandoned. In fact, this is my entire problem with the book - as much as I enjoyed it, it does not say anything new or particularly insightful; stripped of its beautiful illustrations, its content simply would not hold up to close scrutiny. This sudden ending to Craig's story was so unexpected, it literally shocked me - I wanted to know more about him as a person, and at the end I was left with the impression that I hardly knew him at all - that throughout these 600 pages I did not get to really know him or see him develop, and as much as I enjoyed his story I felt no sadness that he was gone and that it ended.

I would still recommend reading the book as it contains genuinely touching moments - mostly in the background, such as Craig's relationship with his brother and Raina's disabled siblings, which for me really shone in the book - though sadly it is not the masterpiece that it was hailed as, and I very much wished that I had been.

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flag 56 likes · Like · see review View all 18 comments Oct 05, 2014 Carmen rated it really liked it Recommends it for: People with interest/experience with born-again Christianity Recommended to Carmen by: Book Store Shelves: graphic-novel , he-says , traditionally-published , non-fiction , 2018-book-lover-s-desk-calendar , published2003 This book is an autobiographical account of Craig's coming to terms with his faith and reconciling it with his sexuality.

Being raised in a born-again family - which is well-portrayed in this book - is not a foreign concept to me. I've spoken before about how damaging the church's messages about sexuality are. We always think of women being oppressed, repressed, damaged, and unhappy as a result of this message, but as I wrote in my review of TAKE MY HAND, men and boys are very hurt and damaged as
This book is an autobiographical account of Craig's coming to terms with his faith and reconciling it with his sexuality.

Being raised in a born-again family - which is well-portrayed in this book - is not a foreign concept to me. I've spoken before about how damaging the church's messages about sexuality are. We always think of women being oppressed, repressed, damaged, and unhappy as a result of this message, but as I wrote in my review of TAKE MY HAND, men and boys are very hurt and damaged as well.

As someone who loves Jesus and reads his Bible daily, Craig has developed a fear of sexuality, finely tuned by his parents, his teachers, and his church. For many, many years he is the perfect Christian boy - one who never ever masturbates because it's a sin and feels extreme guilt and shame for drawing one single picture of a naked woman. He really and truly feels like he is "making Jesus sad" when he thinks lustful thoughts.

Then he meets a girl. At Christian Camp. Her name is Raina. She is beautiful and obviously really likes Craig.

Can Craig kiss Raina? Can he sleep in the same bed next to her? Can he bring himself to make love to her? Or has his religion screwed his sexuality up so badly that he's beyond repair?


I really liked this book. The illustrations are pretty, which counts for a lot. The story is very relatable for anyone who has been or has dated a born-again Christian. I thought Craig and Raina's story was touching and (not surprisingly) realistic. I was rooting for Craig to make peace with his sexual feelings towards Raina during the whole book, and really cheering them on as a couple. It could have easily gone either way.

There were a lot of parts of the book that made me sad, or made me think. Craig goes through frantic periods where he literally burns everything he owns that he thinks is 'sinful' or a 'temptation.' Many born-again Christians do these purges. The results are almost never permanent. I was upset because some of the stuff he burns is very personal and valuable stuff that I knew he would regret burning later.

Another issue that touched me was Raina's two siblings - a brother and a sister - who both have Down Syndrome. She takes care of them daily (they are 25 and 19 and live with her and their parents) and it is a lot of responsibility for her. She even skips school a lot of times to care for them and to care for her (married) older sister's infant daughter. It's obvious that the burden of family care and 'keeping the family together' has fallen on her 17-year-old shoulders. She struggles between wanting to be there for her family and support her family - and wanting to have her own life and time to do her own things.

I thought the book was very thoughtful and handled a lot of things tastefully and beautifully when it would have been very easy to make the book hateful or angry or vengeful.

It's almost 600 pages but it goes very fast.
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flag 50 likes · Like · see review View all 16 comments Nov 01, 2011 Jo rated it really liked it · review of another edition “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement…no matter how temporary.”

and because I couldn’t decide between the two….


“At night, lying on your back and staring at the falling snow, it’s easy to imagine oneself soaring through the stars.”


Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Those last 3 pages, wow.

High Points .
Craig.Snow. Brothers. Church camp. Patchwork. Under the pool table. Cubby holes. Identity. Faith. The future. First loves. Doubt (“It’s reassuring”).
“How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement…no matter how temporary.”

and because I couldn’t decide between the two….


“At night, lying on your back and staring at the falling snow, it’s easy to imagine oneself soaring through the stars.”


Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Those last 3 pages, wow.

High Points .
Craig.Snow. Brothers. Church camp. Patchwork. Under the pool table. Cubby holes. Identity. Faith. The future. First loves. Doubt (“It’s reassuring”).
And, of course, the illustrations.
How can people say they don’t like graphic novels when they look like these ones?
On the back of my book, Entertainment Weekly described Blankets as “visual poetry” and I can’t help but agree. It truly is wonderful.

Low Points.
This book won’t be for everyone and, I don’t mind admitting this, it wasn’t for me for a good 100 pages in the middle. But don’t worry because the other 400 pages I loved.
I’m not sure what it was but there was something about the feel of the story that I just wasn't getting.
I also didn’t know that this book was going to be so focussed on religion and Craig’s struggle with his faith. I’m not religious but I find religion fascinating and a lot of my close friends are religious so I know how (hopefully) how to treat it with respect, even if I don't agree.
I loved how Mr Thompson portrayed the conflict and his own personal struggles after having such an intense Christian upbringing respectfully and intelligently.
I also loved that he didn't go down the whole “Uhh, yeah, religion is crap” “But why is it ‘crap’?”… “Uh well, because it is” road.
He actually had a reasoning for his feelings and he portrayed them honestly and without an agenda.
The only problem with this is that, because I’m not completely familiar with Christianity, a lot of it went over my head. I can’t help but think I would have enjoyed those 100 or so pages more if I’d known about the subject.


Hero .
I feel a bit strange talking about this because obviously Blankets is a memoir and Craig is… uh, well real, but never mind.
It’s safe to say that Craig broke my heart on every single page. His narration, or more appropriate, his feelings which were poured on each page, had such unflinching honesty were both parts incredibly brutal and beautiful.
I don’t want to say much more because I kind of want you to meet him on your own. Reaaaad it.


Love Interest .
Oh Raina, you little dreamer. I can’t help but feel you would be best friends with all of John Green’s heroines.
I’m finding it quite difficult to talk about Raina and her role in her book because when you look at it from a distance it’s easy to describe it as “Oh yeah, it’s all about first love and flirting and snowball fights and snow frolicking”.
And yeah, Craig’s relationship with Raina and the accompanying emotions takes up about 300 pages of this book but the story really isn’t anything about that.
To me, it’s more about Craig’s isolation, his struggle with his faith and his need to find his place in the world.
Also, there are no snowball fights but there is snow frolicking.
I loved how Mr Thompson used Raina illustrate how easily people can move on from things that were so amplified at a certain point in their life, almost to the extent that they gave them definition. But when you move past it and look back, you realise that it wasn’t as shiny and important as you first thought.

“Sometimes, upon waking, the residual dream can be more appealing than reality, and one is reluctant to give it up.”
But I wouldn’t say that this was really a love story.
(The pictures in this section were my favourite though, so gorgeous and striking)
Also, Raina can make patchwork blankets.
Infinite Brownie points for her.


Illustrations.
I feel saying whether I loved these illustrations will be redundant because it’s safe to say I love all illustrations.
I can think of three reasons why this could be:
1) The illustrations truly are beautiful.
2) I can’t draw for toffee so I respect people who can.
3) I love everything, I’m boring and I’m predictable.
Combination of all three?
But I really did love these illustrations and they’ve brought me to come to the decision that I prefer graphic novels in black and white.
I adored how you could tell that each page was thought about carefully, where each panel would be placed on the page, where the dialogue bubble would go. Everything, even down to the swirls in the dream pages.

Theme Tune.

Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard.

Sadness Scale.
8/10.
I really want to give certain authors this book to show them the meaning behind the phrase “show not tell”.
You know in films where the best harrowing/emotional scenes are told with no dialogue, minimal background music and subtlety? That is what Blankets is like.
I can’t describe it properly, and hopefully people who are familiar with graphic novels will understand what I’m trying to say, but emotional scenes in graphic novels seem to somehow create a sense of distance (minimal words telling you how you should feel) and intimacy (almost like you’re looking through their living room window as their world falls apart) that other books can’t seem to recreate.
I love books, whether they’re written or graphic, that present all the pieces but leave the reader to put them together.

Recommended For.
People who have ever struggled to figure out where they fit in with it all. People who love stunning illustrations. People who have ever believed their bedroom was the sea and their bed was a boat (I actually used to pretend my floor was lava, I was a very strange kiddywink). People who enjoy making quilts. People who refuse to stand up for mediocrity. People who refuse to believe in static… it’s always magic. People who would get ignored at Church Camp.
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flag 42 likes · Like · see review View all 11 comments Mar 07, 2011 Oriana rated it liked it Shelves: read-2011 , jugs-capes , books-with-pix book #12 for Jugs & Capes!
review #8 for CCLaP !

I joke about this a lot, but it’s true that in some ways, in the squishiest little corner of my mushy little heart, I am still a teenage girl. My favorite TV show, ever and still, is My So-Called Life . I have read Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye probably thirty times. I still listen to Fall Out Boy, for fuck’s sake! I listen to other music too, obviously, hipster fabulous bands you’ve never heard of (I live in Brooklyn, after all), but something in
book #12 for Jugs & Capes!
review #8 for CCLaP !

I joke about this a lot, but it’s true that in some ways, in the squishiest little corner of my mushy little heart, I am still a teenage girl. My favorite TV show, ever and still, is My So-Called Life . I have read Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye probably thirty times. I still listen to Fall Out Boy, for fuck’s sake! I listen to other music too, obviously, hipster fabulous bands you’ve never heard of (I live in Brooklyn, after all), but something in Fall Out Boy’s plaintive intensity just twists in me, just carves straight into my fluttering core and makes me reel—and plus OMGWTF Pete Wentz is so fucking hot , right?

Um, what I’m saying is that I am a complete sucker for the angst, the power, and the pain of all the firsts of teenagerdom, when everything is the most important goddamn thing ever, the most intense, the most devastating, the most harrowing, the most blissful. So there was every reason to think I was going to fall hard for Blankets .

Except I didn’t.

You probably know the story by now, since this book made Craig pretty damn famous, winning all kinds of Eisner and Harvey awards and making bestseller lists everywhere. But in case you don’t, here it is: Boy meets girl at church camp and falls in love. They spend two heavenly (but mostly PG-rated) weeks together at her parents’ house, escaping their messed-up families and teenage traumas and scholastic hurdles by building a little world into which they can both sink, together, forever (forever for two weeks, I mean, so forever in teenagerland). That’s not the whole story, of course, but that two-week-long date takes up a full 400 pages of a book that doesn’t quite make it to 600, so it’s fair to say that’s most of it.

Well, so why wasn’t I sucked right in? Why wasn’t this just exactly the kind of lush melodrama I love to revel in? I guess because it really wasn’t that interesting . Craig Thomas’s language of love, as it were, is really pretty hokey, pretty cliché. The illustrations are often beautiful and complex, but the story itself just doesn’t measure up. Raina asks Craig to paint something on her wall. She teaches him how to do a butterfly kiss, and he teaches her an Eskimo kiss. They make snow angels. They take long meandering walks or long meandering drives and have long meandering conversations about love and their childhoods and their families and God. There’s just no urgency, no frenzy, none of that sense of if I don’t kiss this girl right motherfucking now my insides will explode .

And then there’s God. That’s the other main thing about this book; religion is nearly as main a character as Craig and Raina. I’ve come out as an atheist before, and I acknowledged back in my Preacher review that, growing up a pretty casual Jew, I missed out on all the Christian guilt and anxiety that was such a strong part of the background of that book, and I had the same trouble with this one. Craig is just in agony about his religious future, especially with the creeping carnal desires he has for Raina. And Jesus looms large—literally—in every aspect of the story. He’s looking down at Craig from the wall of almost every room, and even when there’s no physical manifestation, Craig is reading (or thinking about having read) Bible passages and anecdotes. I can see how this could be very affecting and evocative for someone who grew up in this tradition, or who has a strong faith, but it just doesn’t stir anything in me, and I find it very hard to relate, or sometimes even take seriously.

The best parts of Blankets , in my opinion, actually center around Craig’s and Raina’s interactions with their respective siblings. There is so much more raw energy and passion and pain in those relationships than there is in the central one. Perhaps that’s because the romance itself is so fleeting, and family—at least for these characters—sticks around. Craig and his brother were incredibly close as children, which Craig relates to Raina in a series of very poignant flashbacks, but lately they’ve drifted apart. And during his stay with her, Craig watches Raina interacting with her own family—parents in the midst of divorce, two mentally disabled younger sibs, and a cold, distant, materialistic older sister—and though he doesn’t comment on it too much, the first thing he does when he gets home again is begin a slow process of reconnecting with his own brother. That, to me, was so much more beautiful and meaningful than watching the two teens clasp hands breathe each other’s air and moon at one another. It redeemed the book for me to a good degree.

One of the ladies in my Jugs & Capes group felt that the main problem was that Craig, who is about thirty-five, is just too young and inexperienced and self-absorbed to be writing a memoir. And maybe that’s true, maybe at thirty-five there really isn’t much more than that one intense romance, the enduring heartache of not having been a good enough big brother, the struggle with one’s faith. But much better books were built on much less, so I don’t think I can let it off the hook that easily. It’s not a bad book, certainly, and I’d definitely read more of Craig’s stuff later, but this one just didn’t dazzle me like I’d hoped it would.




See what I mean? No contest.
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flag 38 likes · Like · see review View all 21 comments Dec 30, 2017 Trish rated it it was amazing Shelves: adolescence , teen , adventure , art , america , family , literature , nonfiction , memoir , midwest Wow. Every bit as earthshaking and meaningful as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood , this graphic novel by Craig Thompson published in 2003 by Top Shelf is one thoughtful Americans do not want to miss . Christian evangelical notions of life on earth and what comes after are a huge part of the narrative of our nation. Even today when our population is more diverse than ever, the history of these core beliefs within our citizenry continue to affect the direction of our politics. Wow. Every bit as earthshaking and meaningful as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood , this graphic novel by Craig Thompson published in 2003 by Top Shelf is one thoughtful Americans do not want to miss . Christian evangelical notions of life on earth and what comes after are a huge part of the narrative of our nation. Even today when our population is more diverse than ever, the history of these core beliefs within our citizenry continue to affect the direction of our politics.

Teenagers instilled with these notions rarely have the intellectual wherewithal to question those received ideas. Paradoxically, perhaps because of those early teachings and the constraints of his upbringing, the author--the main character in this memoir-- has the discipline and strength to look squarely at his life, the beliefs of his parents, and think again.

This graphic novel won two Eisner Awards, three Harvey Awards, and two Ignatz Awards in 2004 and a Prix de la critique for the French edition a year later. A strict Christian evangelical family raises two sons in rural Wisconsin; we watch the boys grow up, from sleeping together in the same room/same bed they move to their own rooms, go to summer camp, get harassed at school, romance a girl.

Sometimes graphic novels get a few things right, like the artwork, or the pacing. In this case, Thompson seemed to get everything right. The growing up story is poignant and real and revealing about farm life in Wisconsin in a close-knit religious family. Craig goes to visit his girlfriend Raina who lives in the snowiest city in the contiguous United States, in the Upper Peninsula of far north Michigan .in winter. We are treated to Raina's home life as well, another Christian family who struggles under enormous pressures.

Graphic novels are especially impressive because they must portray characters from an endless array of angles, and in this case, we recognize a character as he grows over a period of years. Moreover, we are feeling that character struggle with the promises and constraints of his religion and the actual manifestation of those teachings that he can see. When Craig’s pastor suggests he consider a religious calling, Craig seriously contemplates the idea.

The graphic novel drops into lower gear here and we see the quality of the intellect behind the work. Craig’s thinking and research into the Bible is Jesuitical, deep and challenging, and he is left with too many unanswered questions and lingering doubts. Different mentorship probably would have produced a different result. This portion of the book is careful, allowing Craig to slip away, leaving the door to his family open, and conflict at bay.

Thompson’s drawing skill is exceptional and smart, unmistakably capturing movement from life. The group scenes are especially exciting; for example, he might draw a high school cafeteria with many tables of students doing all manner of shenanigans. It is Bruegel, in ink. Thompson didn’t hold back on this book: it is 582 pages, not including the credits. He took the time to draw out his religious questioning and didn’t rush us through his moments of insight and revelation.

I especially appreciated the belly laughs he led us to near the end of the memoir when some of the church elders in his hometown warned Craig not to consider going to art school, lest it lead him to sin. Our hearts nearly break with what the teen will miss if he doesn’t follow his passion, but again he manages to avoid confrontation while following his dreams.

Thompson has continued his remarkable success, and in 2011 Pantheon Books published Habibi, a book Thompson had begun working on in 2004 after traveling in Europe for a time. Influenced by Arabic calligraphy and Islamic mythology, Thompson tells us "I'm playing with Islam in the same way I was playing with Christianity in Blankets.” [ Wiki ].

On my blog I have posted two videos of Thompson demonstrating and discussing his work. The first is short and covers his childhood and all books. The second is a 56 minute interview, with slides, of Thompson discussing Habibi . I am completely wowed by this man, his work, and the depth and scope of his intellect. Highly recommended.
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flag 38 likes · Like · see review Jan 18, 2009 Greg rated it liked it Shelves: graphic-novels A few years ago when part of this book was in the McSweeney's Graphic Novel issue I really liked it. I remember it being on of the stories that made me want to go out and by the book. I didn't go out and buy it though because it was just too damn expensive for me, sure the book looked nice but spending thirty bucks on a graphic novel that I'd read in an hour or so didn't seem worth it.

Now I have finally read it. If I had rated Blankets as soon as I finished it I would have given it four stars.
A few years ago when part of this book was in the McSweeney's Graphic Novel issue I really liked it. I remember it being on of the stories that made me want to go out and by the book. I didn't go out and buy it though because it was just too damn expensive for me, sure the book looked nice but spending thirty bucks on a graphic novel that I'd read in an hour or so didn't seem worth it.

Now I have finally read it. If I had rated Blankets as soon as I finished it I would have given it four stars. Instead I went for a walk to go buy coffee, and thought about it on my short walk and realized that there are some big problems with the book. Coming home I decided to read other reviews of the book before writing this, something I don't usually do, but felt I'd see if other people had some of the problems I had. Some did, and some had some really weird problems with the book, like the guy who gave it one star because it believed it was a fundamentalist Christian comic book in disguise. I have a feeling this person didn't make it to the end of the book, or else is seeing something I didn't see in the book.

The book captures the confusion of being a teenager who is out of place with his surroundings. The main part of the story revolving around his short lived long distance relationship with a girl he meets at Church Camp is sort of on the heartbreaking side, and pushes all of the melancholy romantic buttons for me, maybe even a little unfairly. On my walk I couldn't help thinking that I have to stop identifying with my own doomed relationships of my younger days, and not just give it stars because it allows me to wallow in past where everything good always seemed to exist too far outside of the immediate surroundings to be feasible. Maybe if the book just stuck to doomed young love I'd be giving this a higher rating.

My big problem with the book is the sexual abuse part, which sort of comes out of left field, is used as a juxtaposition between the way the main character and the love interest show responsibility towards their siblings, but is then sort of just left sitting there. Maybe if it had only been alluded to I would be able to let it be passed off, but Thompson returns to it, gives no inkling of any kind of effects the abuse had but instead it just kind of hangs over the rest of the story doing nothing after it's second appearance. Now, if it had been a book dwelling on sexual abuse I probably would have disliked it, a part of me is tired of the survivor genre of memoirs, but I just don't understand why it is there in the story (except of course that it happened, which is ok, but lots of things I'm sure happened that aren't in the story, and I'm sure lots of things happened that have turned Thompson into the person he is today that aren't in the story). Now I'm feeling a little like a dick for attacking this point, I just think it should have been integrated into the story a little better.

I liked this book but more on my immediate feelings for it then when I think about it. I probably have more to say about it, but I'm feeling tired of working on this review. So this is all there is.
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flag 38 likes · Like · see review View all 8 comments Dec 12, 2019 Ines rated it really liked it · review of another edition Shelves: graphic-novel This graphic novel is a real beauty !! I read it together with my teenage daughter and closing the book we both had a lump in the throat .. I would have liked to enter in the book and scramble with tenderness those two children, I found myself kidnapped in following their growth, melancholy in the face for their pain and mistreatment, happy for the first positive encounters and ecstatic for the first true tenderness of love with a girl.
However, I have struggled to understand the whole disrupti
This graphic novel is a real beauty !! I read it together with my teenage daughter and closing the book we both had a lump in the throat .. I would have liked to enter in the book and scramble with tenderness those two children, I found myself kidnapped in following their growth, melancholy in the face for their pain and mistreatment, happy for the first positive encounters and ecstatic for the first true tenderness of love with a girl.
However, I have struggled to understand the whole disruptive part of the biblical quotations and religious experience, I presume of some extreme Protestant wing . ( For us Europeans, it is a bit strange and to understand certain realities of the Church, not having here so many Protestant confessions and all their variations of church)
It struck me because everything is exposed without ever falling into exaggeration nor put under the spotlight in a negative sense someone in particular of this small exposed society. Here is all delicacy as principle!



Ma che bellezza questa graphic novel!! l' ho letta insieme a mia figlia adolescente e chiudendo il libro avevamo tutte e due il magone .. avrei voluto entrare nel libro e strapazzare di tenerezze quei due bambini, mi sono ritrovata rapita nel seguire la loro crescita, malinconica di fronte ai loro dolori e maltrattamenti, felice per i primi incontri positivi ed estasiata per la prima vera tenerezza d'amore con una ragazza.
Ho fatto fatica però a capire tutta la parte così dirompente delle citazioni bibliche e dell' esperienza religiosa, presumo di qualche ala protestante estrema . ( per noi europei è un pò strano e anche terrorizzante vedere esposte così certe realtà di Chiesa, non avendo qui così tante confessioni protestanti e tutte le loro varianti di chiesa)
Mi ha colpito perchè tutto vien esposto senza mai cadere nell' esagerazione ne nel mettere sotto i riflettori in senso negativo qualcuno in particolare di questa piccola società esposta. La delicatezza fatta principio!
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flag 39 likes · Like · see review View 2 comments Mar 28, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: graphic-memoir , coming-of-age The philosopher Pat Benatar once claimed, Hell is for children , and indeed, Craig Thompson's young life was overrun with glimpses of that fiery underworld. Bullies, religious zealots, scary cubby holes, and a baby sitter who liked to do naughty things . . . just a typical day for Craig and his brother Phil. It was not a warm and snuggly existence.

His teen years were not much better, as he fell headlong into love, and experienced a crisis of faith. And all the while, there was that nagging worr
The philosopher Pat Benatar once claimed, "Hell is for children", and indeed, Craig Thompson's young life was overrun with glimpses of that fiery underworld. Bullies, religious zealots, scary cubby holes, and a baby sitter who liked to do naughty things . . . just a typical day for Craig and his brother Phil. It was not a warm and snuggly existence.

His teen years were not much better, as he fell headlong into love, and experienced a crisis of faith. And all the while, there was that nagging worry that he should have done a better job protecting his baby brother.

This beautifully drawn graphic memoir serves as a reminder that life can be harsh. We should be grateful for any comforts (and comforters) we can find.
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flag 36 likes · Like · see review View all 6 comments Aug 17, 2009 Dave Russell rated it really liked it Shelves: autobiography , graphic-novels Desire is sad.
--W. Somerset Maugham, Rain

When I was a kid one of my friends invited to go to some church event retreat thingy. My dad, a mildly avowed, atheist wouldn't let me go. I've often wondered what he thought would have happened and what would have actually happened had I gone. Would it have been the opposite of one of those memoirs that get published with alarming frequency, about the person who suffers under the pressure of a strict religious upbringing and later discovers atheism o
"Desire is sad."
--W. Somerset Maugham, "Rain"

When I was a kid one of my friends invited to go to some church event retreat thingy. My dad, a mildly avowed, atheist wouldn't let me go. I've often wondered what he thought would have happened and what would have actually happened had I gone. Would it have been the opposite of one of those memoirs that get published with alarming frequency, about the person who suffers under the pressure of a strict religious upbringing and later discovers atheism or at least liberalism? In my case would it have turned into the story of a person who escapes a pretty good tolerant childhood into the world of a restrictive and overbearing church?

Anyway this graphic novel starts off as another retelling of that first kind of story. It almost felt cliche to me. The only thing that held my interest was the artwork which is beautifully lively and yet subtle, throughout the book.

It's during the middle part that this book earns its stars. It's so wildly romantic and melancholy and beautiful. The Maugham quote above would be a perfect title for that part of this book. The way Craig falls so in love with Raina who loves him back, and yet it never quite satisfies him. He longs for her even when he's with her. Perhaps true desire can never be satisfied because it only exists in the future tense, never in the perfect.

Given that, I'm kind of ambivalent about the ending. Craig's attitude at the end wasn't what I was expecting, and I was left with a slight sense of being cheated. Although maybe that's because the middle part was so strong. I so identified with him, that the fact that he didn't feel what I would have felt, kind of unsettled me.
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flag 35 likes · Like · see review View all 23 comments Jul 14, 2019 Warda rated it really liked it · review of another edition Shelves: library-reads Blankets: constant clean slates. A renewal of life. Feeling renewed. Starting over.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this graphic novel. I knew that it was loved by many and that was as far as my knowledge went.

Once I cracked the book open, the bleak tone of the story hit me within a few pages. It was depressing. Lonely. Insecure and full of doubt.
It’s somewhat of a coming of age story where the main character has been brought up with a particular worldview but as he gets older, fi
Blankets: constant clean slates. A renewal of life. Feeling renewed. Starting over.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this graphic novel. I knew that it was loved by many and that was as far as my knowledge went.

Once I cracked the book open, the bleak tone of the story hit me within a few pages. It was depressing. Lonely. Insecure and full of doubt.
It’s somewhat of a coming of age story where the main character has been brought up with a particular worldview but as he gets older, finds that this worldview doesn’t sit well with him anymore.
So he was lost and unsure for a while and that was palpable through the writing and the illustrations.

It was gorgeous. Simple and beautiful.
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flag 39 likes · Like · see review View all 4 comments Sep 18, 2019 ¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪ rated it really liked it Shelves: comics-graphic-novels , kindle I loved every minute of this touching, heartwarming story! The growing path of a man, from his childhood years to adulthood, so similar to anyone's but also unique: trauma, friendship, relationship with the family, religion, and the first love. Beautiful.



The artwork is stunning too.



And many parts felt beautiful on a literary level.



I'm glad I read this story, it will stay with me for a long time.
I loved every minute of this touching, heartwarming story! The growing path of a man, from his childhood years to adulthood, so similar to anyone's but also unique: trauma, friendship, relationship with the family, religion, and the first love. Beautiful.



The artwork is stunning too.



And many parts felt beautiful on a literary level.



I'm glad I read this story, it will stay with me for a long time.
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flag 35 likes · Like · see review View 1 comment Feb 01, 2020 Reading_ Tam_ Ishly rated it really liked it I loved this book so much!!! Coming of age, accepting oneself, letting go of hurt and regrets, letting go of false faith and religious blind following. This graphic novel is so damn satisfying to read and I have gained so much from it. It talks elaborately on family, disability, relationships, religion, art and family relationships. The art sequence might be a bit difficult to get used to but this is one of the most realistic graphic novels I have ever read. flag 34 likes · Like · see review View 2 comments Apr 13, 2016 Calista rated it it was amazing Shelves: award-harvey , comics-graphic-novel , 2003 , genre-love-story , award-will-eisner , award-various , genre-drama-tragedy , genre-memoir-biography , bage-young-adult , i-misc I thought this book was so well done. It sets a mood and the setting tells the story as much as the words do. Most of the story is told in a blanket of snow. It stirs and moves me. I thought the love story was so well done and Craig was very honest about who he was and what he went through. His sadness comes through the pages.

I was in a cafe reading this and burst at laughing at the pee-pee wars. That was too much. There is nudity and it fits in the story well.

I also grew up in a community that
I thought this book was so well done. It sets a mood and the setting tells the story as much as the words do. Most of the story is told in a blanket of snow. It stirs and moves me. I thought the love story was so well done and Craig was very honest about who he was and what he went through. His sadness comes through the pages.

I was in a cafe reading this and burst at laughing at the pee-pee wars. That was too much. There is nudity and it fits in the story well.

I also grew up in a community that had many narrow thinking religious people in it and much of what he experiences at church camp I had similar feelings about it as well.

The whole book worked so well. I really did love reading this story. If you need an up book, this is not it. If you are looking for a soft story of searching and searching and questions, this is your book. I have been through a rough trimester and I feel empty and this story completely matched my mood. I am waiting for that blanket of winter and I simply fell into this story. What a joy to read this!
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flag 27 likes · Like · see review Apr 15, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing Shelves: graphic-sequential-art No book has ever come so close to my own story it really left me in tears because I knew *exactly* what the author was writing about if I could draw worth a dime (and had the guts to talk about my past like he does), my graphic biography would look very much like this That was [is:] my family - just replace the little brother with sisters and the landscape to New Mexico. That was me at fundy church camp. That was me fighting over the bed covers with my little sister but then crying when No book has ever come so close to my own story it really left me in tears because I knew *exactly* what the author was writing about if I could draw worth a dime (and had the guts to talk about my past like he does), my graphic biography would look very much like this That was [is:] my family - just replace the little brother with sisters and the landscape to New Mexico. That was me at fundy church camp. That was me fighting over the bed covers with my little sister but then crying when we were separated. That was me reminding my parents that I was a vegetarian. That was me exchanging letters with my church camp boyfriend (although it never went as "deeply" into first love as this story). That was me have an existential meltdown in my late teens.

So, yeah, it was profound. Plus, it was a beautiful book. I think I have a new favorite.

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flag 29 likes · Like · see review View all 5 comments Jan 02, 2008 The Fizza rated it it was amazing Shelves: strictly_graphic-novels , non-fiction , favorite-stories 5 STARS - A few years ago I was lent a book called Blankets which I read on the 5 hour trip back from New York City on a Sunday. Now to say the 600 pages just few by would not be an exaggeration. I was done with the book before we hit the Massachusetts border. I knew very little about the book, save for the blurbs on the cover, nor had I heard of it's writer/artist, Craig Thompson, before. But my friend, a struggling journalist living in Queens, told me that 'Blankets' was a semi-autobiographi 5 STARS - A few years ago I was lent a book called "Blankets" which I read on the 5 hour trip back from New York City on a Sunday. Now to say the 600 pages just few by would not be an exaggeration. I was done with the book before we hit the Massachusetts border. I knew very little about the book, save for the blurbs on the cover, nor had I heard of it's writer/artist, Craig Thompson, before. But my friend, a struggling journalist living in Queens, told me that 'Blankets' was a semi-autobiographical graphic novel well worth the read.

And so being a bit of a junkie when it comes to reading (especially on these long trips) and impressed by some of the supposed 'comic books' that I have run across in my time (Mister X, From Hell, Maus, Blue Monday, etc ) reading something like this seemed an interesting diversion. Little did I know that before long I would be entangled in a fluid and focused work tracing the path of three of the author's closest relationships; his brother Phil, first love Raina, and Christianity.

What I found within these pages was a lonely and isolated young man groping around, trying find an identity. It was clear and yet emotional. It was a whirlwind, and yet structured. Like thoughts, or growing up, can be. But most importantly it was honest.

Craig's struggles with identity, love and religion are shown with no malice or mocking. The characters that populate "Blankets" reflect the emotional realities of Craig's world, while his art lets us move through his life with an intimacy that reminds us how it was, or can be, growing up. We join Craig as he begin to discover the world outside his everyday life in rural Wisconsin and how his relationships sharpen his reality and thereby his identity.

Craig was born in the mid 70's into a very Christian central Wisconsin family, and the events covered here deal with the emotional shrapnel, which results from his emerging adulthood. It's a strong work, by a new talent. In an interview for the Portland Tribune, Craig tells of his influences and goes on to tell how he drew the book on Vellum Bristol Board using a number two watercolor brush and Speedball Super Black India Ink.

But it seems to me that the best part of the interview is when he bared a bit of his soul regarding his conclusions to the questions he struggled with as young man (and shared with us in the pages of "Blankets") by saying, "There's a bitter cynicism, a nihilist attitude, about (Art) Spiegelman and (Dan) Clowes (work). I think my generation is a bit sweeter, but the sweetness is not ironic; it's sincere. I just think our attitude toward some things is more optimistic."

"Blankets" was written and drawn at night while Craig worked a full-time day job, this weighty work took nearly four years to complete. Craig has illustrated for Nickelodeon and Owl magazine, DC and Dark Horse comics. His debut graphic novel 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice' won the comics industry's esteemed Harvey award for Best New Talent, and was named by The Comics Journal as one of the Top Five Comics of 1999.

-The Following are BLURBS for "Blankets"-

The New York Times Book Review "beautifully rendered memories of small brutalities"
Publishers Weekly "sincerity, pictorial lyricism, and taste"
Time magazine "best comic of 2003"

and the Library Journal has "Blankets" on their year-end "best of list" for 2003
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flag 28 likes · Like · see review View 1 comment Jan 12, 2011 Peter Derk rated it did not like it Okay, I read this quite a number of years ago. I didn't review it at all because I didn't have much good to say about it. But just recently I was asked to say a few things because this book, which has become a darling of sorts, doesn't get a lot of one-star reviews.

Like I said, it's been awhile, so I'll do my best. But everything will probably be based on how I remember FEELING more than anything.

This came out in 2003, so at that time I was just starting college. I think I would be just about th
Okay, I read this quite a number of years ago. I didn't review it at all because I didn't have much good to say about it. But just recently I was asked to say a few things because this book, which has become a darling of sorts, doesn't get a lot of one-star reviews.

Like I said, it's been awhile, so I'll do my best. But everything will probably be based on how I remember FEELING more than anything.

This came out in 2003, so at that time I was just starting college. I think I would be just about the ideal audience in a lot of ways. Sensitive (wussy), smart (thinking other people were stupid), and into comics (knee-deep in college trim), this really had it all, I was led to believe. I mean, this was a time when I thought that the world's biggest problem was that there may never be another Postal Service album. To summarize, my primary function at the time was FEELING FEELINGS.

So, when presented with what I was told would be an epic tale of a young man's feelings presented in comic book format, I set up my Dell desktop to play a loop of downloaded indie emo and dove in.

As an older man, an elder statesman, I'm prepared to admit that some of the strong dislike I felt for this book could have come from the fact that it was so popular. Just like every young person who becomes upset when he sees an Ashanti album climbing the charts while his favorite bands stagnate, there's something about being young that makes everyone else's bad taste a personal affront. You like Sean Paul? Why do you hate me and everything of quality?

Just to be clear, there may have been an element of that here. Because Blankets was goddamn everywhere. This was the era when big box bookstores and libraries were dipping toes in the graphic novel waters, and Blankets was one of the books you'd find absolutely everywhere. Part of the problem was that I didn't think it was all that good. But the other part of the problem is that it felt like Blankets was one of those books that people used as a tool to separate Comic Books from Graphic Novels. No, this isn't about a man with a freeze ray taking over the world. It's about a young man's real life. Therefore, it is a real thing for grown-ups to read.

I hate that mentality. Because to me, a story about a man who messed up in his pursuit to save his wife, and eventually finds himself running around with a freeze ray because saving his wife is the only thing that matters to him, speaks to a lot of the same issues as Blankets, but in a way that I find a lot more creative and engaging. We all have more in common with Mr. Freeze than we'd like to think. How many of us made a life out of pursuing a doomed relationship that was idealized because the pursued was not involved in any real way?

At any rate, that mentality is not the fault of Blankets, nor is its popularity in bookstores. But I just wanted to lay all my cards on the table and say there was probably some malice because of who I was and where I was.

Now onto the actual book.

Here's the thing: I'm a HUGE fan of autobiographical, heartfelt, small memoirs. I love stories of heartbreak, and a simple story told well, especially where romance is concerned, will get me every time. Jeffrey Brown is a great example, to me. Also a comic book artist, he writes stories that seem almost pointless, but as you read through the tiny events add up to someone's entire life. Even if the small events are not super memorable, you'll never forget how the book made you feel. It's honest and comes from a very real place, which is what makes it work for me.

Blankets didn't feel honest. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is 100% genuine and I'm being unfair. But to me, as a young man of the exact same age, it felt like a very romanticized version of early college life. It felt like a version of the truth that my mom would want to read. There's one masturbation sequence, and it's so overwrought and guilt-ridden that it was hard for me, a kid who went dumpster diving for Playboys, to identify with.

Again, my problem isn't whether or not Thompson is telling the truth. But for me, it doesn't FEEL real. It FEELS like revisionist history. It FEELS like he was spending a lot of time thinking about who would be reading about his life as opposed to putting it down on paper. It FEELS less honest than I needed it to be.

The book also has a strong religious theme throughout. It's a struggle with religion, which I'm sure is something a lot of people go through, but for me was never an issue, and it's one of the few things I struggle with as far as identifying with others. There's no hell I can imagine worse than hearing someone in their early 20's discuss his or her personal religious philosophy and the struggle they went through to find it. Seriously. I'm certainly an atheist, but not so much so that I'm above pretending to love Christ in order to get out of a conversation with a near stranger about religion. In fact, religion-wise, I'd say my orientation is 100% flexible, the flexibility being based on saying whatever will get me out of conversations about religion. Not because I struggle with my own beliefs, but just because I'm not interested.

And that's the core of what I don't like about Blankets. Hearing the character talk about religion, I felt like I was reading the words of a complete stranger. After spending 500 pages with a character, especially in what is ostensibly a very personal story, the one thing I should feel is that this person is no longer a stranger to me. I should care about this person on some level. It's okay to hate a character or love a character, but I should have SOME opinion on what I'd like to see happen to him or her.

In Blankets, I really didn't.

The graphic memoir has gotten quite popular, for better or worse, and it's something I try to keep up with. There are some that are poorly drawn, some that are clearly not well-suited for a comic format, and many that feel a little less than honest. I can overlook all of it. The one thing I can't overlook? Finishing reading it and feeling nothing.
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flag 26 likes · Like · see review View all 11 comments Jan 14, 2018 David rated it it was amazing It's the semi-autobiographical story that starts with Craig from his childhood, sharing a bed with his brother huddled against the cold of Wisconsin winters. It's a bed that is both a battleground and a life raft.

It mirrors his relationship growing up in the Christian faith, the child of devout parents. Christianity is a refuge against the small-town bullies but becomes something he has to wrestle with in the throes of young love when he meets Raina.

It's such a particular Western story. While
It's the semi-autobiographical story that starts with Craig from his childhood, sharing a bed with his brother huddled against the cold of Wisconsin winters. It's a bed that is both a battleground and a life raft.

It mirrors his relationship growing up in the Christian faith, the child of devout parents. Christianity is a refuge against the small-town bullies but becomes something he has to wrestle with in the throes of young love when he meets Raina.

It's such a particular Western story. While nowhere nearly as devout I recognize both the strength and the torment growing up in the faith can have. I know that Jesus painting, I recognize the narrow confines of the church and it's almost desperate proselytization. How the raptures of faith can come up hard against the awareness of first love and how both can be utterly transporting and wildly confusing.

Thompson's brush work is perfect and clear and somehow manages to evoke the nervous awe of first love, the creative impulse, Christian guilt and the raw imagination of youth.
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flag 25 likes · Like · see review Dec 22, 2014 Trina (Between Chapters) rated it it was amazing Shelves: 2015 , comics-graphics-manga , 2015-favorites , young-adult , new-adult , standalones Rating Edited on 12/26/15. Am upping my rating from 4 stars to 5 stars because this was the first book I read this year and after 12 months it still stands out to me as a powerful and lingering story despite the open ending that originally caused me to knock a star off. One of the BEST graphic novels I've ever read. Highly recommend.
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First book of 2015!

Beautiful artwork and touching story.
Rating Edited on 12/26/15. Am upping my rating from 4 stars to 5 stars because this was the first book I read this year and after 12 months it still stands out to me as a powerful and lingering story despite the open ending that originally caused me to knock a star off. One of the BEST graphic novels I've ever read. Highly recommend.
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First book of 2015!

Beautiful artwork and touching story.
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flag 26 likes · Like · see review Apr 29, 2016 Tori (InToriLex) rated it liked it Shelves: disappointed-due-to-the-hype , graphic-novel , comic Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

I was excited to be blown away by this because of all of the booktuber's who have recommended this. This was a sweet story about coming of age. first love and grappling with Christian beliefs. However I was underwhelmed and wanted more to be explained.  Craig explores the pivotal experiences and memories that have shaped his life. I was happy to learn more about him, but the emotional turmoil and angst of adolescence was not well communicated through his
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

I was excited to be blown away by this because of all of the booktuber's who have recommended this. This was a sweet story about coming of age. first love and grappling with Christian beliefs. However I was underwhelmed and wanted more to be explained.  Craig explores the pivotal experiences and memories that have shaped his life. I was happy to learn more about him, but the emotional turmoil and angst of adolescence was not well communicated through his story. Much of the book focuses on Raina and Craig's romance that they were able to explore for two weeks when he comes to visit.

Raina was a very complex character, who had a lot of responsibilities and hardship to deal with. We were briefly allowed into her family life when Craig goes to visit. Raina has to care for her two special needs siblings, her infant niece and mediate between her divorcing parents.  But the story really doesn't address hard issues in more then a passing way. There are fascinating panels featuring verses of the bible intertwined with Craig's pondering about life. But Craig never addresses how he  feels about things happening. He may describe an emotion but he never explores the "so what"? He leaves the reader to fill in a lot of the blanks, and so I struggled to engage.

The artwork was done well and imaginatively. But this memoir falls short because there's no real reflection on what Craig has learned. There were heart felt moments, and thought provoking messages, but nothing that  stuck with me. I would recommend this for fans of non-fiction graphic novels, who enjoy good artwork. Many other readers have absolutely loved this, so it's worth a shot, but this didn't work for me.

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About Craig Thompson

Craig Thompson 2,225 followers Craig Ringwalt Thompson (b. September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan) is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets . Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards. In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

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“How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement - no matter how temporary.” 295 likes “Maybe I'm sad about wanting you. I'm not too comfortable with wanting someone.” 118 likes More quotes…

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