Blankets is a graphic novel – an enormous coming of age graphic novel about a fellow Wisconsinite and artist named Craig who is searching for meaning in his faith, his connections to family, and the world around him. It’s not a coincidence that the main character’s name is the same as our author, as I do believe the book is autobiographical.
Our hero in this story is a lonely and isolated young man, and through these beautifully drawn panels, we follow Craig’s journey from childhood to adulthood as he navigates the oftentimes challenging world of trying to please one’s parents and doing “what’s right .” In so doing, Craig tries to be true to himself …or should I say, discover himself while trying to fit in.
Through the engaging pages, Craig experiences the joy and exhilaration of — as well as the heartbreak following — a first love, and all the while trying to reconcile it all with his religion or the religion of his parents, which was a small town Fundamentalist Christian religion. I was also brought up in a strict, Fundamentalist religion growing up so, I was able to relate to this on so many levels. So in this way, the story was at times heartbreaking and at other times joyful — painful to read in some parts, hopeful in others. Good memories, as well as bad and I, ended by tearing up on some pages, and smiling in others.
This was one of those books that I absolutely devoured and though it was enormous, flew through it in a couple of sittings. I thought that the illustrations were expressive and moving, and the author’s ability to capture so much emotion in facial expressions of these drawings captivated me.
It’s the kind of story that you can completely lose yourself in — or at least, I did. By way of his brilliant artwork, the author was able to pull me from my world into the mind of an adolescent and all the uncertainty and fear that goes along with that, bringing me back to my childhood as though it were yesterday.
It’s funny — as I was reading this, I thought of it as a quiet read, and it really was. So much was said in the drawings without the need for extraneous words — and that is a difficult feat for an artist to pull it. Craig Thompson did it amazingly well, in my opinion.
And there was so much snow in this book — something those of us who live in the Midwest can definitely relate to so in this way, it would make a perfect winter read.
Overall, I loved this book. It was an emotional and comforting read about discovering one’s relationship with faith, regardless of the type of religion or even lack of any spiritual belief system whatsoever. This book isn’t about having a crisis of faith but rather finding one’s own personal path — the path that’s right for each of us.
I think anyone should be able to appreciate this novel regardless of whether or not one is religious because again, it’s not about religion — it’s about slowly putting ourself together until all the pieces fit properly. Recommended!