Monday, December 19, 2011


Blankets, by Craig Thompson, describes first love, family, and growing up, and is loosely based on the author’s own life. Craig meets Raina, a girl from Christian camp, who encourages him to explore his spirituality and question what he had thought he knew about his life and his faith. Their relationship grows as they send drawings, poems, and letters back and forth. Eventually, Craig travels from his small, fundamentalist town in Wisconsin to Raina’s house in Michigan, where she deals with a myriad of problems stemming from a family that’s falling apart. While her parents struggle with their divorce, Raina helps care for her two adopted siblings, both with mental disabilities, and her niece, Sarah, whose parents are disinterested. When Craig arrives, he finds himself in the middle of Raina’s struggling family. Intertwined with his story of first love are descriptions and memories of the relationship Craig shares with his brother. Among these recollections, he brings the reader to the nights when they were young and shared the same bed, where many fights would erupt and their parents would come to scold them. Blankets is a fascinating story that captivates and enchants the reader with wholesome emotions and astonishing intimacy.

Thompson creatively combines text and and picture to create an idyllic coming-of-age story. At first glance, the reader may be flustered by the large 592 page graphic novel, but as the first couple pages go by, it is quite obvious that the story is a fast read. One main aspect of this novel was Craig’s spiritual journey. He has difficulty understanding the beliefs that he grew up with and he becomes even more confused after spending two weeks with Raina. He was encourages during his teenage years to continue on a path into ministry but there was always something that pulled him in another direction--drawing. Thompson’s work appears fluid and effortless as he captures the emotions of the main characters easily. He also uses blankets throughout his novel as a symbolic object. Blankets come up multiple times: during flashbacks with his brother, other times when Craig is with Raina, and at the end of the novel when he is reflecting on his relationship with her. They symbolise protection, a safeguard from an outside world and create a connection between the younger Craig and one growing up. The reader can easily relate to being underneath a blanket and feeling protected from the world. Whether in a world of happiness or extreme sadness, a blanket’s warmth and comfort provides shelter from these emotions.

Relationships with friends and family are what drives Thompson’s graphic novel, and although some fall apart during the story, he works to strengthen them in the end. One major relationship, besides with Raina, is Craig’s connection with his brother. Craig grows apart from his brother as he goes through his teenage years, and Raina points out this unfortunate fact when they are talking one day. He takes Raina’s suggestion to work on renewing their bond, so that they can be as close as they once were. After he ends things with Raina, he never manages to rekindle things with her, but when he uses the blanket she gave him once more, it does help him not heal the break, but aid complete his own recovery.

Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets is an emotional story that appeals to the reader and uses symbolism and key relationships to drive the story. In it, Thompson captures the essence of first love and growing up, creating a story that will captivate all readers.

1 comment:

Michael Hancock said...

Your review succinctly states what you see as the accomplishment of _Blankets_ in its rendering of coming of age and first love. You nicely summarize the plot and some major themes of this landmark work. Thompson's art is briefly touched upon here but deserves further commentary.