Blankets · Feb 26, 07:42 PM

My brother-in-law has a knack for finding marvellous books. The most recent of his book-gifts is Blankets, an autobiographical coming-of-age story set in a small town in north-central Wisconsin. I mean, who would ever think there would be a graphic novel about growing up in the cheesehead boonies in the 80s and 90s—and that it would be really entrancing?

Craig Thompson wrote and illustrated the story. His childhood experience was pretty rough. He really didn’t fit in anywhere: he was a farm kid who preferred drawing to sports; his family was extremely evangelistic; and his hometown was so small that it made Marquette, Michigan (population approx. 21,000) seem large and intimidating.

Yet, despite superficial differences – I’m four years older than he, female, and grew up a town kid in a non-religious family – Thompson’s tale resonates for me. It’s not just the novel’s location, tho’ many details are peculiar to central Wisconsin, such as the drawing of his father reading the front-page story about ginseng in the “Wausau Herald”. No, what rings true is Thompson’s treatment of universal themes: relationships (with one’s parents, siblings, peers, and church/community); first love; and growing up.

The fun part of the book is the creativity that exudes from his art. He chooses carefully how he draws himself and others at different ages. His landscapes and depictions of his thoughts and dreams are fascinating, too. Go, read it!