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.
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?