SLIP - Marika McCoola
Art, pain, and discussions of friendship bonds and finding your individual voice collide in this new graphic novel for young readers.
A quick disclaimer and a content warning: This young graphic novel deals heavily with discussions of suicide. Please be warned before proceeding with this review or others on this book.
Slip follows the summer journey of Jade, a young artist about to go off on a summer art program at the Art Farm. Right before Jade leaves for the camp, she receives the news that her best friend, Phoebe, has attempted suicide.
Phoebe is immediately sent off for treatment and help, and Jade is still sent to art camp.
Now separated from Phoebe and dealing with the complex feelings of being on intimate sidelines of such an event, Slip delves into the tangled ball of yarn of friendships, suicide, internal healing, and growth.
And, to make matters even more interesting, Jade's art pieces start to come to life at the camp—forcing Jade to confront a lot of her internal feelings around Phoebe, life, and what comes next.
I thought this graphic novel had a wonderful concept. The idea of a suicide impacting the social network around the affected individual—like a stone dropped into a pond, rippling outward—was a great topic, and having it conveyed to a younger audience even more so as this is something that affects groups of all ages, not just adults.
However, I must say that I felt a lot of mixed feelings while experiencing this story. Jade's self-absorption over the impacts of Phoebe's decision on Jade's own life read as selfish to me as opposed to caring, and while this was clearly NOT the author's intention, it then started to feel to me that the story was sidelining the real truth of Phoebe's story and subsequent trauma and somehow prioritizing the selfish angles of Jade as the "hurt best friend." It was always going to be a tightrope to balance this topic, and even if it was done flawlessly it might have continued to feel uncomfortable, but still... it struck the wrong chords with me.
In addition to the handling of the sensitive topics at hand, I also thought it was an odd artistic choice to have a very visual arts-themed graphic novel told entirely in grayscale colors, with an occasional pop of pink accents. This would have had such a different tone if done in full color, and might have more accurately represented the vibrant arts camp setting. I am assuming the artist's intention was to have it gray to represent the very heavy topics at hand, but to me personally it felt off.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for Young Readers for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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