Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
Author: Mariko Tamaki (author), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (illustrator)
Publisher: First Second Books
Review Copy: Library
Availability: Available now
Summary: Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.
Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.
Review: I will begin this with the caveat that I will read anything Mariko Tamaki has a hand in. (This One Summer and Saving Montgomery Sole, also by Mariko Tamaki, are amazing. 10/10, would recommend.) So I was all-in from the jump. But when I saw the cover, well, it was love at first sight.
True to the title, the graphic novel centers on Frederica, known as Freddy, who has an on-and-off relationship with the popular, too-cool-for-school Laura Dean. She struggles to navigate this relationship and her friendships throughout, and as the cover suggests, it’s not exactly a happy love story. But it is a beautiful, poignant look at adolescent (and queer!) love and the power of friendship, among other things. The writing is heartbreakingly beautiful and will stay with you for a long time.
And of course, we’ve gotta talk about the art: Holy crap. It was honestly a little difficult to progress through the story, since I kept having to stop and gaze in awe at each panel. Every page is honestly a work of art, with incredible detail that lends itself perfectly to the story. You really get a sense of the characters and the setting — Berkeley, in this case. I could stare at those intricate outlines of flourishing Berkeley foliage for hours.
I can’t recommend Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me enough. It’s absolutely worth your while, especially if you’re a fan of queer comics like Tillie Walden’s.
Recommendation: Buy it now!