Author: Julie Maroh
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
First Published: September 3, 2013
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
In this tender, bittersweet, full-color graphic novel, a young woman named Clementine discovers herself and the elusive magic of love when she meets a confident blue-haired girl named Emma: a lesbian love story for the ages that bristles with the energy of youth and rebellion and the eternal light of desire.
I don’t know how I had missed out on this beautiful graphic novel until now, but it is one of the most emotional and true-to-life love stories I’ve ever read. The story centers on Clementine, a high school junior that finds herself entranced by a mysterious blue-haired woman named Emma. Clementine struggles to come to terms with her budding sexuality and her attraction to the blue-haired woman.
This graphic novel was beautiful in that it explores a number of issues that young people face when they begin romantic relationships: emotional cheating, betrayal and forgiveness, fear of change, differences in personal or political views, growing up, growing apart. Many of these issues can be applied to heterosexual couples as well, but are especially prevalent in lesbian relationships and all are compounded by the stigma of being LGBTQ+. The fear of not being accepted by one’s friends or family, of making sense of one’s self, of taking the leap toward love no matter the cost. Clementine’s journey is one that is grounded in reality, with moments of extreme happiness and depression. People fall in love, people hurt each other, people make mistakes; every experience comes together to form a life and a love that is tangible and ever-changing.
I greatly appreciated this story’s frank yet tender discussion of the complexity of love and the way that it can change us. The art style was not to my usual taste but I ended up loving it the more I read, it perfectly encapsulated the ugliness and the beauty of people. This graphic novel deserves all the awards and the praise that it has received, and it helped me to feel better and make some sense of some of my own romantic experiences.
“Love catches fire, it trespasses, it breaks, we break, it comes back to life… we come back to life. Love may not be eternal, but it can make us eternal.”
Trigger Warning: Sex, Homophobia, Depression