If you added whimsical supernatural touches and millennial colours to the film 8th Grade by Bo Burnham, Delicates by Brenna Thummler is the graphic novel you would get. When I saw the cover I knew I would love this comic, in fact I took my time before opening the pages of that book, knowing I did not want to be distracted. Something about the style of the illustrations, the comforting and complementary pop colours chosen soothing the senses, the surreal ghosts in the camera hinting at something strange beyond our eyes, the dainty emotional touch suggested by the title, it just hit all the right chords to suggest an emotional and yet hopeful read.
The album follows Marjorie who is starting 8th grade, doesn’t want to be alone, and who talks to people hidden under sheets. But really this book tells the story of Eliza who wants to capture a ghost with her camera, and says what she sees, no pretence. Nothing is ever explained about her, but she reminded me so much that girls with adhd or autism or many other mental none conforming spectrums often get diagnosed late… and have to go around feeling inadequate and without support.
The illustrations are very personal, made of dark grey lines and bluish pink hues and yellows – cold and yet comforting too, like good people locked in loneliness, not knowing what to do. The silences are very expressive in those pages. There are many faces expressing their uneasiness, loss, sadness in quiet moments and they really give a peculiar melancholy feel to those pages. We really see the emotions playing on the features of the characters, the thoughts not uttered. And we yearn with them.
This story grabs at your emotions from the get go, seizing that awkwardness of early teen years, social inadequacies, fitting in when you are on the spectrum and touches very hard topics of self-worth, suicide, bullying but also recognising passive participation, the power of asking for help, the need for a role/a tag… this is a look at the strength and weaknesses or people and how hard it is to build yourself and navigate the group. We are social people, whether we are introverted or extroverted – strong willed or not, confident in our beliefs or searching and lost. Strong people are not without weaknesses, and because someone doesn’t show their pains doesn’t mean their hearts aren’t bleeding.
A truly beautiful read, I highly recommend it, with powerful messages to all teens out there.
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