*Disclaimer* Tillie Walden is a classmate of mine at the Center for Cartoon Studies.*
I think there comes a time for every reviewer when they have to stop and go “Do I really write this review? Is this something I can do? Is it something that I should do?”
And that’s what this book is for me. I have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to writing this review and not all about the book. I’ve been bouncing these questions around for the last month in my head, but it’s finally come down too…I have to write a review for this book. Because it’s a good book. No, scratch that, it’s an exceptional book. And it deserves a review and it deserves to have a place in libraries.
This is one of those rare books where everyone is going to see the same story, but all come away with a different meaning of about what they just saw. And they’d all be right. While on the surface it’s about a relationship between two young girls, growing up and finding each other, it explores much deep meanings as well. And what you take away from it will depend upon the life that you’ve lived.
I’m not going to use trite phrases to describe what happens, because it’s something that we’ve all had happen before. That first. First kiss. First love. First heartbreak as the world comes crashing down. And how all color seems to drain away from the world. Tillie has captured a story that so many of us have endured and can relate to, with sparse words and vivid imagery of two young women towering larger than life. Comfortable in this relationship they feel giant and secure in the world around them. Until one doesn’t. And it all comes back to the world being so frighteningly big. And so very alone, with the notes of the past lingering in the background. Coloring everything that we see.
There’s a sparseness to the artwork, a few lines capturing the two young women, in their vitality and youth. The way they lean against each other, against the world, it’s that loseness and vitality of being young and it’s captured so effortlessly. No awkward movements or stances here. The one place this changes is when Tillie is drawing buildings or architectural elements in the background, where lines burst from the page in sharp detail, almost to the point where they can overwhelm the characters. But this doesn’t happen often, just in a couple of places where Tillie is showing her skillset. No, in most places the backgrounds work hand in hand with the characters, giving them a place to lounge, to be, to let them show how their feeling with the turn of the head, the way they hold their hands, or just in the way they stand. There’s a beauty to them.
If you’ve reached this point in the review and you’re wondering…are the two girls in a relationship, then I clearly failed in my job to make that clear. But yes. Yes they are. And that’s why this book deserves a place in the library world. Not because it’s about two girls being in a relationship, but because it’s about relationship, it’s about life. And everyone. EVERYONE. Deserves to be able to read a book that they can relate to. And that’s what this is. No matter what gender you are or sexual orientation, this is a book that you can relate too. More importantly though, it lets young girls know…they aren’t alone. They aren’t the first. And although there will be heartbreak along the way, and life with be colored by the musical notes of the past, you aren’t alone.