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BlanketsReview - Blankets
An Illustrated Novel
by Craig Thompson
Top Shelf, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Feb 15th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 7)

Although Craig Thompson's Blankets is described as an illustrated novel, the author says that it is based on personal experiences, so it has as much claim to be an illustrated memoir.  It is narrated by the author, who makes himself his main character.  He starts with himself as a young boy, growing up with his younger brother Phil and their strict Baptist parents.  The story switches between two time frames, Craig as a boy and Craig as an older teenager.  The main story in the book is about the summer when he met a girl, Raina, in Church Camp, and subsequently went to stay with her family for a few weeks.  Both teens are exceptionally beautiful and questioning in an ugly world that requires conformity and blind faith, so it is not surprising that they fall in love and struggle with their Christian morality.  Craig especially is a serious and devout believer and he often dwells on verses from the Bible, and as he comes to think about it more, he has difficulty making sense of Christian doctrine.  Raina is a much more popular girl, but her family is more unusual, since her has two older siblings who are both mentally retarded, and her parents are struggling with their marriage.  Raina's parents are much more generous and loving than Craig's, and he learns a great deal from his time with their family where he is welcomed warmly and he spends time playing with Raina's sister. 

It is a touching and impressively complex story spanning 582 pages, switching between Craig's childhood and his first love, showing his isolation from his peers and how close he was to his brother when he was younger, Raina's many friendships and the demands on her within her family, and the growing relationship between the two teens.  But what really makes Blankets so remarkable is Thompson's artwork.  He manages to convey the rare relationship between Craig and Raina as they come to trust each other and immerse themselves in each other's lives as they come to know real intimacy.  It is a crucial time for many teens when they find someone who understands them for the first time and accepts them for who they are.  Thompson captures it beautifully.  This book is a deeply personal work, and has no parallel among other graphic novels.  Highly recommended. 

 

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© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved. 

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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