Losing the Girl by Marinaomi
Life on Earth Book 1. Graphic Universe, 2018. ISBN
(Age: older teens) Themes: Graphic novel, Relationships, pregnancy, friendship. Part one introduces us to Nigel Jones, a likeable skateboarding boy living with his mum, dealing with his parents' separation while trying to find a girlfriend. The graphic style is simple and expressive, particularly Nigel's hair. Small details like action indicators, unusual perspectives and individual text types add depth and interest. Nigel asks Emily for a date and she asks him if there is a serious side to his joking around. They quickly get closer and he asks her if she is a virgin. They discover they are both virgins and kiss. Part two is from Emily's perspective. She confesses to her friend Paula that she wants to lose her virginity to someone more memorable, like older boy Brett Hathaway. The strong black and white graphic style comes into its own at a party where Emily's increasing emotional instability under the influence of alcohol and Brett Hathaway is effectively expressed in how she is drawn. She does lose her virginity and becomes pregnant. Older sisters and friends help clarify her options but the emotional roller coaster is vividly expressed. As the abortion approached Emily retreats more and more into herself until she is a brief outline. Friendships are tested and some harsh lessons are learnt. Part three is from Brett Hathaway's point of view. Secretly in love with Joanna who wants to be just friends he learns about Emily's abortion and goes to see her. The softer grey washes are expressive, but not as engaging as the previous styles. The Fourth section is from Paula Navarro's perspective. Emily's not so attractive friend, draws her own narrative in her own sketchy style. Scarred by her own abusive relationship with Darren, she is unable to support Emily as she too is attracted to Brett and her story is infused with guilt and jealousy. The end is complex, incorporating colour for the first time and returning to a thread about a missing student who may have been abducted by aliens! "Losing the Girl" is a complex interweaving of perspectives on the lives of ordinary suburban teens told through their own relatable voices. We are led to feel their awkward moments and mundane concerns interleaved with life changing decisions in a sophisticated graphic presentation. Teens will find this appealing though the sex and one incident of smoking drugs might preclude younger readers. It will have wider appeal than graphic novel fans, especially readers from non-English speaking backgrounds and less literate students.