I’ve been on a quest this year to explore and discover graphic novels. I was inspired by This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki because it told such an intricate story with so much emotional depth and little text. I checked out the teen graphic novel section of my local library, but it was mostly superheroes and anime. I did, however, find one graphic novel there that looked interesting to me - Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge – and I enjoyed it very much.
The format of Page by Paige is unique and creative – it’s the sketchbook of a teen girl named Paige. Paige’s family has recently moved from rural Virginia to New York City, and the sketchbook details Paige’s adjustment to her new life and also her quest to better understand herself. Like many teens, Paige is suffering an identity crisis, not sure if the person she presents to the outside world is the real Paige. She’s very shy and wants to come out of her shell a bit and be authentic, while making new friends in her new home. The sketchbook is her way of opening up – to herself and to those around her – and truly discovering who she really is.
It’s a very creative approach to telling a story, and it works wonderfully. There are some pages of more standard graphic novel format, with boxes and dialogue bubbles, but many of the pages are Paige’s attempts to sketch how she is feeling and what she is experiencing. Throughout the novel, Paige makes new friends, falls in love for the first time, and yes, begins to understand herself and feel comfortable in her own skin.
This journey of self-discovery will be familiar and inspirational to all teens struggling to figure out who they really are and how they fit into the world around them. It seems to be somewhat autobiographical, as the author’s bio explains that she, too, moved from Virginia to NYC with her family as a teen and used a sketchbook to better understand herself. The book even contains a playlist at the back of the characters’ favorite songs (many of them are in this Page by Paige YouTube playlist). Page by Paige is a wonderfully creative coming-of-age story about finding yourself and your place in the world.
Amulet Books (imprint of Abrams)