Author: Julie Maroh
Published: April 2010 by Glenat
Length: 157 pages
Warnings: graphic sex scenes
Other info: This got adapted into a film, La Vie d’Adele, which won the Palme d’Or.
Summary : Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.
Review: Clementine, age fifteen, sees a blue-haired girl in the street one day. Further meetings with this girl, Emma, leads to attraction, eventually love.
I wanted to read this because a) it's a lesbian story that got quite a bit of buzz, and b) I need to practise my French. I was a little wary about reading this because I tried watching the film, got forty minutes in, and got bored.
I knew I would not be bored by the graphic novel because we are told in the first few pages that Clem dies, and that we'll be seeing the story as narrated by her diary, being read by Emma. This structure immediately made it more interesting, knowing it would come to an end, whether or not our characters wanted it to. However even though you know Clem's death is coming, the circumstances leading up and the way we see it to it still build to make it heartbreaking when it happens.
The bulk of the story follows Clem throughout her teenage years. Watching her exploring her sexuality, all the milestones, are shown tenderly. Although neither she nor Emma are perfect, and don't always fit together, it seems realistic. There is a long timeskip though, and thus while we see the events that leads to Clem's death, the scene the sets it all of is very unexpected, after not seeing their relationship for about ten years.
I love Maroh's use of colour. In the flashback scenes when Clem is in love with Emma, it's greyscale, apart from highlights of blue. As their relationship changes, other colours are used, the shades and intensities appropriate to the scene. I can see why in my college library this got categorised under art.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a tragic tender love story.