Blankets by Craig Thompson

Posted 19 March, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 22 Comments

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Blankets Book CoverTitle: Blankets
Author: Craig Thompson
Published: 2003; Pages: 591
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Rating: Stunning

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In Short: Thompson looks back on his first teenage love affair, often using moments from his youth and his religious growth as a frame for the book.

Why I Read: It’s been on my list for years because of rave blogger reviews. Part of me pleasure delayed reading it a bit. Do you do that, too?

Thoughts in General: At first glance, Blankets is about Thompson’s first youth romance with Raina. She doesn’t live in the same town as him and after a lengthy correspondence period, he goes to visit her for a couple of weeks. Their time together makes up the bulk of the book. Their relationship is tender and fragile and oh boy did it take me back to a few of my own youthful romances. In fact, much of this book felt incredibly nostalgic for me and I wonder if that’s why I connected with it so strongly.

Included in the mix of young romance is Thompson’s struggles with religion and the reconciliation he faces between the god he believes in and the god he has been taught throughout his childhood. Again, my own personal youthful experiences fed into my reading of his own experiences (though our spiritual journeys ultimately end up in different places) and some of the images Thompson provided were downright terrifying. In addition to these moments were some tough moments with Thompson’s parents, his brother, and some hinted at child abuse/molestation. There’s definitely a lot going on in this book, and even at 591 pages I could have kept reading on.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

The art! The entire book is full of black and white sketches and I was absolutely captivated by Thompson’s artistry. As mentioned above, some of the images, especially dealing with religious themes, were grotesque and haunting–much as I believe Thompson felt haunted by these ideologies. But the drawings of Raina or of Craig and Raina…oh my heart. They were so tender and so filled with longing and desire and love and lust that sometimes my heart felt so heavy in my chest. I absolutely could not get enough of these illustrations (and the story as a whole) and felt so sad when I closed the book.

Bottom Line: Blankets wasn’t always an easy read–and I would recommend it for more mature audiences (there are several love scenes and moments of nudity), but how do I recommend it! I think that Blankets now sits at the top of my favorite graphic novel/memoir. It was just so damn beautiful. I borrowed my copy for the library but one day my own copy will adorn my shelf.

Curious–what’s a heartachingly beautiful book you’ve read about youthful love? Have you read Blankets yet?

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22 Responses to “Blankets by Craig Thompson”

  1. Blankets has been on my to-read list forever, probably due to the same blogger raves. My next graphic memoir will be An Age of License by Lucy Knisley, but this will be right behind it!

  2. This is absolutely one of my favourite graphic novels! I’d had a hard time writing out my thoughts after closing the book. Just beautiful!

  3. I’ve been meaning to read this for forever. I totally get putting off a book to enhance the experience later, although the flipside is that I build up my expectations so high that the book disappoints me. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Ti

    I don’t think I could wrap my brain around nudity/love scenes in a graphic novel. That would be so weird to me!

    If there is a book I’ve been dying to read, I try to draw out that pleasure reading phase too.

    • Funny how SO many “adult” graphic novels/memoirs have nudity or sex. I’ve encountered it a lot. I would call these more love scenes–they’re not quite as explicit as others I’ve seen, but there are other parts of nudity. I definitely have to be careful where I leave these books lying around when I have the checked out of the library!

      Yup, total pleasure delayer, here. Not sure that’s always a good thing.

  5. One of my goals for the year is to read a graphic novel/memoir (I never have, eep!) and this was one of my top choices. Your review makes me want to get it on it sooner than later!

  6. This has been on my TBR list for too long, and after reading your review I know I need to bump it up to the top of the list!

    I think Eleanor & Park was a heartbreakingly beautiful title about youthful love.

  7. Susan in TX

    I don’t remember hearing about this one. I do occasionally “save” books for delayed gratification. :)

  8. This is one of those titles I had forgotten about until you posted about it. I think I even bought it I wanted to read it so badly and know I still have not read it. Now I need to go check my shelves :)

  9. 591 pages? Am I just unaware or is that really, really long for a graphic novel? On the other hand, if it’s stunning, it’s worth it!

    • I would say that 591 pages is fairly long for a graphic novel. I was definitely surprised by the length when I picked it up! It was an engaging enough read that I zipped through it pretty quickly (by which I mean a few days). ;)