Sunday, April 28, 2013

a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey

Asher Machnik is a quiet transfer student with a Aphenphosmphobia, a fear of being touched.  Unfortunately, his effeminate appearance makes him the target of bullying by a few of his fellow students.  Coming to his defense is Eu (short for Eulalie), a tall, intimidating "dyke" who is perpetually pissed at the world.  The two quickly find friendship through their common passion for drawing and for certain music.  They each become the best friend that the other desperately needs.

This story is one of friendship, longing, and self-exploration.  The teens are labeled one way by society but discover how they don't need to fit under any pre-existing labels.  However, while Ash is exploring his sexuality and trying to overcome his fear of contact, Eu develops a desperate crush, wishing that Ash could find piece with her, someone who understands him, instead strangers at the bar.

While not for everyone, this story is beautiful.  A few scenes/topics that the novel tackles can be tough to swallow for some and the story is an emotional roller coaster that will stick in your mind for a while.  Some parts are a bit wacky and weird, but it fits and there are some themes reminiscent of Japanese manga.

I did not expect to relate so strongly to the characters, who have rather strong personalities, but I really felt everything they were going through while reading.  Eu is surprisingly realistic and her feelings are so relatable for nearly any girl. Anyone who has felt like an outcast, struggled to fit into a predefined social group, or has been unsure of their sexual identity should feel some relation to this story.  As I said before, however, this book may not be for everyone.  Some background knowledge of queer culture would make reading this a bit easier, as terms are thrown about pretty casually without elaboration and much of the sexual content in this book is homosexual.

The art style of the novel is effective for the feelings it conveys and the emotions it intends to provoke.  The drawings range from extremely cartoon-ish (students gobbling food with razor teeth) to extremely detailed and emotional.  The sex scenes are tastefully done, focusing more on the expressions of the characters than what is going on below.  Manga readers may be a little hesitant at first, used to a cleaner, prettier style and fewer blocks of text, but you get used to the art quickly and it really suits the story.  It feels like a teen's sketchbook, and what's more appropriate than that?

This story can be very sad, depressing, and even frustrating at times, but only because of how you feel for the characters.  At the end of the journey, you won't regret reading.  It leaves with a lot to think about, but not a bad taste in your mouth. 

Overall, if the book synopsis for this graphic novel sounds like something you'd like, read and you will enjoy.


Alexandra Klitz said...

I think that a lot of teachers are a bit apprehensive about putting anything with sexual content into a high school English class, but I think that it should be introduced in some measure. Teens sometimes have sex; they should be introduced to the topic in school so they don't go out there and learn it for themselves and end up getting hurt. Heterosexual relations are getting more and more attention, but I don't think the same is true for homosexual intercourse. I think that this too is necessary and its nice to see a novel that address homosexuality both in the act of homosexual relations and as a cultural mindset. I think I'd like to read this.

Alexandra Klitz said...
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