Thursday, April 22, 2021

Graphic Novel Review: Flamer

I recently read an excellent graphic novel, Flamer by Mike Curato, which is aimed at older middle-graders and young teens. It’s the story of a boy struggling with issues of identity and self-confidence.


Thirteen-year-old Aiden is at Boy Scout camp, a place that he normally loves. While he's enjoying all the usual activities, the beautiful outdoors, and the camaraderie, this summer Aiden is also very worried about going to high school in the fall. He gets teased a lot and bullied, and he's scared that the big public high school will be even worse than his Catholic middle school has been. To make things worse, he's self-conscious about his appearance, gets teased about being mixed-race, and worries that he might be gay, which is not acceptable in his Catholic upbringing. Even his beloved Boy Scouts are anti-gay (the book takes place in the 90's), so what happens if Aiden is gay? But he's not; he can't be. Aiden also has a difficult home life, with an abusive father, which is one reason why Boy Scout camp is usually his safe haven. The novel follows Aiden’s week at camp, where he is pulled between enjoying his favorite place and agonizing over his identity and what comes next.


Sample double-page from Flamer


Flamer is a poignant story of an adolescent boy trying to figure out who he is … and if he can accept himself. The wonderfully drawn black and white pictures (with some splashes of red where there is fire) and story follow Aiden's struggles that summer, which the author says are autobiographical. It deals with some very difficult topics—abuse, bullying, struggling with sexual orientation, and even suicide—that are countered by the fun activities Aiden loves at summer camp and drawings of the beautiful outdoor environment. I loved this moving, powerful story about identity, friendship, and acceptance.


366 pages, Henry Holt


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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  1. I'll see if one of our local junior highs has a copy of this I can borrow. It looks really good.

  2. I'm glad that you enjoyed this. I am often surprised when I read Graphic novels since it isn't my usual. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I don't always like all graphic novels but this was a good one! I'd definitely recommend it.