I've been getting into graphic novels recently, and Blankets is one that has come highly recommended to me from a variety of different sources. I was actually very keen to read Thompson's other graphic novel, Habibi, but Blankets was the one my library stocked, so I decided to try it first. It's an autobiography of two different parts of Thompson's life; falling in love for the first time and his relationship with his brother. Told in non-chronological order and jumping between the two narratives, Blankets is a coming of age tale about what it is to be human and the relationships we have with each other.
I reserved Blankets at the library without ever seeing it so was shocked at how chunky it was when my hold finally came in! At 580+ pages, it's definitely the longest graphic novel I have ever read. This chunkiness, the sheer length of it, meant that as a reader you get to fully know the characters in a way that I would normally associate with a straight-forward novel. It was an immersive experience and this made it emotionally engaging. I really felt for Craig, and the confessional style of the narrative made it easy to connect with him. Having been bought up by strictly religious parents, Craig magnifies all of his flaws/ 'sins' and this makes him relatable. It felt like reading a diary, as Thompson wasn't interested in covering anything up in order to appear better than he was.
The parts of the book that dealt with Craig falling in love with Raina were just beautiful. It's been a while since I fell in love for the first time (it's our ten year anniversary today!), but reading Blankets bought it all back, the intensity and how important everything feels. Thompson manages to make these scenes sweet without being sappy and I loved them. Similarly, the relationship between Craig and his younger brother felt very real, too.
In fact, there wasn't much I didn't love about this novel. I thought the latter parts were a bit rushed, almost as if Thompson was worried that the book was already long enough, but apart from that I have no complaints at all. It's a fantastic coming of age story, I loved the style of the illustrations and the story is full of emotion. I can't wait to pick up Habibi.
First Published: 2003
Edition Read: Top Shelf Productions, 2006
Score: 4 out of 5
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - Another beautiful examination of first love that feels extremely real.