I could feel a wall separating us. I could fee time passing. I felt lonely again, and then used that loneliness as my fuel.
By Craig Thompson
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.
Blankets is a graphic novel that I picked up based on some casual Google pecking for “books set in Wisconsin.” So bless you Google, because this title was incredible.
A personal, semi-autobiographical work is a coming of age tale of a boy growing up in rural Wisconsin under the watchful eyes of a religious family and community. His relationship with his faith, his parents, his brother, and his first love are explored as he ages, questions, and discovers his sense of self. It is all at once joyful, honest, and heartbreaking.
I related to this book in more ways than one. Not only were the Wisconsin and U.P. settings and mindsets deeply familiar, but the sibling relationships, the religious upbringing and the protagonist’s need to become ones own person reflected my own aging process. Thompson writes and illustrates experiences that I could see myself in clearly, beautifully distilling all of the guilts, fears, and hopes for the future that so many of us toiled with during our adolescence and teenage years.
Blankets tells its story through tangents and asides. A basic linear narrative of the protagonist as a teenager is ongoing, but as he struggles with his relationships and his faith he calls back to other times- to childhood, to experiences that shaped his mindset and identity. The introspection is humorous, tragic, and often profound.
The artwork, all in black and white, is gorgeously done, demonstrating moments both literal and abstract and emphasizing both the blankness of the stark winter that envelops the story and the vibrance of the emotions felt by a young man coming into his own.
This is the first work of Craig Thompson’s that I have read, and I don’t think it will be the last. Blankets was beautiful, memorable, and above all- relatable. I recommend it highly.
Summary from Goodreads