Double Review: YA Graphic Novels (Jane and A Year Without Mom)

Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramon K. Perez; Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars


This graphic novel is based on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but Brosh McKenna took some liberties with the story in making it believable for a modern era. Jane is orphaned and raised by her aunt, but very few pages are dedicated to this. A modern Jane would not write away for a job as a governess, take the job and move away sight unseen, so in this telling she just moves to New York City for art school. Upon registering she is told that she must acquire a job by the end of the week in order to keep her scholarship, so she takes a mysterious job as a nanny for a wealthy single father. She is told never to go to the third floor, which is where the “single” father’s wife is in a coma, but their daughter, who is 6, doesn’t know. Jane falls in love (and sleeps) with the father, but it turns out that the wife’s brother is out to get the father because he’s in love with his own sister and wants her husband dead. So that was weird. But ultimately it gets the essence of Jane, an orphan who finds a place in another family. The art is incredibly well done and easy to follow and I enjoyed most the relationship between Jane and Adele (the little girl) and the twist at the end.

A Year Without Mom, by Dasha Tolstikova; Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

9781554986927 Dasha (yup, it’s memoir time) was 12 the year her mom went to the United States from Soviet Russia to get her master’s degree, leaving her to live with her grandparents. This graphic novel chronicles the ups and downs of her friendships and romantic interests that year, and ends with her going to the U.S. to be with her mom for the second year of the program.

Fellow book clubbers liked this one overall, though there were some in my camp who didn’t really get why it was written. One book clubber had studied abroad in Russia and gave us a little background. The spare use of red tended to highlight the perpetually-embarrassed cheeks of middle school girls. I suggested it would be good for kids who might not want a story with any conflict in it. That’s about all I’ve got for you. I didn’t love it.

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