Thursday, May 31, 2012

a + e 4EVER

by I. Merey, 209 pages

Two young people on the social fringe struggle with identity, hormones, dysfunction, and acceptance in this touching, edgy tale of awkward adolescence and the confusing emotional and physical bonds of love and friendship.

Quiet Asher Machnik is teased for being such a pretty boy that he looks like a girl.  Brash Eulalie Mason, with her partly shaved head and numerous piercings, is in no danger of being called girly.  One day in the cafeteria, the two meet, find some common ground, and gradually develop a fragile friendship.  But just as big-talking Eulalie starts to figure out that what she feels for loner Asher is more than friendship, he's figuring out that boys are definitely not outside his interests, and the two must figure out where that leaves them and what they are to each other.

Merey's art is inky and free and fits her independent yet vulnerable characters well.  This is not a safe, cute, high school romance.  Sex, drugs, and club culture mix with everyday home life and simple pleasures like sitting around sketching and sharing music.  As these troubled kids stumble through change and its challenges, the reader laughs with them, fears for them, and roots for their happiness, whatever shape it ultimately takes.

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