MINI REVIEWS — DIVERSE GRAPHIC NOVELS Edition!: Pilu of the Woods, Archival Quality, Sincerely Harriet, Strange Fruit Vol. 2

The last mini review post went over well, so I decided to start making this an occasional thing! This week’s mini review round-up includes 4 graphic novels — all diverse!

Pilu of the Woods has own-voice Asian rep, Archival Quality has POC and queer rep, Sincerely Harriet has Latinx and own-voice queer rep, and Strange Fruit Vol. 2 has own-voice black rep.

Some the reviews below are the shortened version of my review, but the “goodreads” link buttons will take you to the full review. Enjoy!


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TITLE: Pilu of the Woods
AUTHOR: Mai K. Nguyen
RELEASES: April 17th, 2019; Oni Press
GENRE: Fantasy
AGE RANGE: MG

SYNOPSIS:
Pilu of the Woods is an MG fantasy graphic novel about a little girl named Willow who gets in a fight with her big sister and goes running off into the woods, where she meets Pilu, a forest spirit. As they adventure together, Willow is forced to come to terms with her “monsters”—the emotions that cause her to lash out at her loved ones or to think poorly of herself—and she must learn how to take care of those feelings and deal with them in a healthy way, without hurting her family.

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I don’t know if a graphic novel has ever given me quite as many Feels as Pilu did, but wow, this little story is incredible. Don’t be turned off by its marketing as a middle grade story, because it is without a doubt the sort of tale that could be enjoyed by anyone of any age. The artwork is stunning and some of my favorite I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel, the plot is beautiful, and the characters are so lovable.

Even though the hard copies won’t be out for a little while, I’ve already added the final edition to my shopping list to pick up later because it’s so lovely and precious that I know I’ll reread it again and again. Be warned, though: you should probably have tissues on hand, because the ending of this little graphic novel had me weeping the most bittersweet tears. ♥ Well done on crafting such a gorgeous little world, Mai!

Thank you so much to Oni Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

5stars


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TITLE: Archival Quality
AUTHOR: Ivy Noelle Weir
RELEASED: March 6th, 2018; Oni Press
GENRE: Paranormal
AGE RANGE: New Adult

SYNOPSIS:
Archival Quality is an interesting and somewhat dark story about a young woman who becomes the overnight archivist librarian for an asylum-turned-library, where dreams of a strange and tortured young woman lead her on a chase for answers and a way to offer reprieve to a broken, lost spirit haunting the library.

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The art style in this graphic novel isn’t my favorite, but it’s made up for by how much I enjoyed the plot and how easily I could relate to Cel. Celeste is struggling tremendously with her mental health, but she’s afraid of seeking help, despite the fact that her illnesses cause her to lash out, react irrationally, and panic over everyday situations. There’s a panel in the book where she gets angry at her boyfriend and then breaks down crying and saying she doesn’t understand why she’s angry and she’s just tired of feeling this way, and wow, did I feel that.

I definitely think the main plot of the story isn’t the ghost or the mystery, but is Cel’s struggles with her own mental health and the journey she embarks upon to find her way to therapy and seeking help, so I wouldn’t recommend going into this expecting any sort of scary, in-depth ghost story—but if you can relate to that feeling of having no control over your mental health and being unsure of where to go for help, I think Cel’s story might resonate with you, too.

Thank you so much to Oni Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

4stars


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TITLE: Sincerely Harriet
AUTHOR: Sarah Winifred Searle
RELEASES: January 1st, 2019; Graphic Universe
GENRE: Contemporary
AGE RANGE: MG

SYNOPSIS:
Sincerely, Harriet follows Harriet, a young Latinx girl who has found herself bored and lonely after moving to a new place. Not only does she not know anyone in her new town, but her parents both have to work overtime or multiple jobs, and her friends from summer camp aren’t even taking the time to write her back.

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We quickly learn that Harriet’s loneliness has caused her to become this habitual liar with a poor attitude, so she isn’t the most likable protagonist, but there’s definitely some growth to be had as she explores her own feelings and fears regarding her recent MS diagnosis. She befriends the elderly woman downstairs who teaches her about her oldest son’s experience with polio in the 50s, and begins to find an outlet for her imagination as well as her loneliness. She’s also forced to come to terms with feelings she seems to have for a girl from her summer camp the year before, which is a little painful to watch, but I appreciated what felt to me like a subtle tell of some sort of queer representation.

The artwork is cute, and I liked the representation a lot, but the plot itself doesn’t have much to offer, so I have a hard time deciding when I would or would not recommend Sincerely, Harriet.

Thank you so much to Graphic Universe for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
3stars

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TITLE: Strange Fruit, Vol. 2
AUTHOR: Joel Christian Gill
RELEASED: February 1st, 2018; Fulcrum Publishing
GENRE: Nonfiction
AGE RANGE: MG

SYNOPSIS:
Strange Fruit, Volume II: More Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History is a collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity. Each of the eight illustrated chapters chronicles an uncelebrated African American hero or event. Joel Christian Gill offers historical and cultural commentary on heroes whose stories are not often found in history books.

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This little graphic novel is absolutely PHENOMENAL and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It covers eight stories of important black historical figures, and makes them perfectly readable for any age range. There is some creative censoring in place for young readers whose parents might not be comfortable with them seeing slurs in print, as well as older readers who don’t want to be reminded of those hurtful phrases, but the point is never glossed over. That said, these stories do not focus on black pain—they focus on black pride and the amazing things these individuals have done.

The individuals highlighted in the collection are Jourdon Anderson, Stagecoach Mary Fields, Willie Kennard, Cathay Williams, Blind Tom Wiggins, Millie and Christine McCoy, Victor Green, and Eugene Bullard. All of the stories take place during the 1820s-1960s. While I was familiar with almost all of the stories, this collection made me realize I’d been fed whitewashed versions of many of them, so I’m very grateful to the author for putting together this work and showing me what really happened. It was eye-opening in a sense as it made me realize that I need to do better about ensuring that the historical information I’m reading is the truth and not yet another contribution to the systemic oppression and erasure of black history and culture.

Of course, this collection of stories would be a perfect one to recommend for Black History Month, but I want to echo what the author stated at the end of the collection: “28 days are not enough when it comes to Black History.” Don’t wait until BHM—pick this one up immediately, and you won’t regret it!

Thank you so much to Fulcrum Publishing for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

5stars


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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

6 thoughts on “MINI REVIEWS — DIVERSE GRAPHIC NOVELS Edition!: Pilu of the Woods, Archival Quality, Sincerely Harriet, Strange Fruit Vol. 2

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