Friday, May 15, 2020

2 Graphic Novels and a Graphic Memoir

I have fallen behind on my book reviews and read lots of great graphic novels/memoirs last month (including Snapdragon), which means quick reading time but lots of books to review! So, I am combining three of those reviews here today, for a 3-for-1 on fun graphic novels and memoirs--the perfect solution when you are struggling to concentrate or want to read something quick but satisfying! Below are reviews for The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown and Go with the Flow by Lily Williams and Schneemann, both wonderful graphic novels for teens/YA (but each very unique), and Go To Sleep (I Miss You) by Lucy Knisely, a warm and funny chronicle of her first year as a new mother.

The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown is a unique coming-of-age story set in the early part of the 20th century in a freak show. Conjoined teenaged twins Isabel and Jane were abandoned to the freak show when they were young, but they have found a family there, among the other freaks, both born and made. When a surgeon offers to separate them, Jane is enthusiastic and ready to live her own life, but Isabel is happy with the way things are. The surgery kills Jane, and Isabel is left alone for the first time in her life, having not only lost her beloved sister but also the arm and leg that they shared. Jane's not entirely gone, though, since Isabel can still see and hear her ghost at her side. In town one day with the tattooed woman, Isabel meets a kind young man named Tommy who is a talented tattoo artist. He uses his artistic talents to make realistic-looking prosthetics for her, and it is clear that he likes her. The circus comes up with a new role for Isabel, as the "living doll," featuring her new prosthetics, though it's not as big a hit as the conjoined twins were, and she knows she needs to earn her keep if she stays. Tommy wants to make a life with her, but Isabel isn't sure if she can leave the only family she has ever known.

Sample page from the beginning of The Phantom Twin
 I loved The Phantom Twin! It's such an original premise but based in part on historical research the author did on circus freak shows and the people in them. Readers see a whole world behind-the-scenes that is unfamiliar and fascinating. At the same time, this is a warm and sweet love story and ultimately, a coming-of-age account about figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life.

206 pages, First Second

You can purchase The Phantom Twin from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order The Phantom Twin from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

Go with the Flow by by Lily Williams and Schneemann is an entirely different graphic novel for older middle-graders and teens, set in the modern world (and with no ghosts!), a story of friendship, activism, and ... periods! Brit, Abby, and Christine have been best friends for a long time and are excited about their sophomore year. They meet the new girl, Sasha, when she suddenly gets her period for the first time, in front of everyone and while wearing white pants! Oh, yeah, it's every girl's nightmare. While everyone else is taunting and teasing her, the three best friends sweep in to help Sasha and usher her into the girls' bathroom. Abby is appalled to find that the sanitary products machine in the restroom is empty, and after they help Sasha, she goes to talk to the principal about it. He just shrugs and says there's no budget. Abby is furious that this isn't considered a necessity and wonders about girls who maybe can't even afford period products, even if they were available in school. She begins to blog about these problems. The four friends end up trying to make some changes and break the taboo against talking about menstruation. This warm, inspiring story is a fun tale of friendship that also touches on some serious issues and empowers girls to make a difference.

Sample page from Go with the Flow
333 pages, First Second

You can purchase Go with the Flow from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Go with the Flow from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

I am a long-time fan of Lucy Knisely and her graphic memoirs like Relish: My Life in the Kitchen and Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride. Her latest, Go To Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons from the Fog of New Parenthood is all about the ups and downs of being a new parent. Through her engaging drawings, readers have followed her life through planning a wedding, getting married, and being pregnant, and this book is the next step.  Through adorable, relatable single-page cartoons, Knisely shares the joys and stresses of being a new parent, from sleep deprivation to constant worries to first smiles, perfectly capturing the stark contrasts of that magical and exhausting time. Warm, fun, and entertaining as are all of her graphic memoirs, anyone who has been a parent will be able to relate and feel her love for her baby come off the page and into your heart. This would be a great gift for a new parent or parent-to-be!
Sample page from Go To Sleep (I Miss You)

177 pages, First Second

You can purchase Go To Sleep (I Miss You) from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Go To Sleep (I Miss You) from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. This sounds great! It can be so comforting to read about other people dealing with the same parenting challenges as you. Thanks for the post!

    1. I love all of Lucy Knisley's graphic memoirs!

  2. Go With the Flow sounds like a must have for all middle school libraries. What a great premise.