Book Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki
Reviewed by Kamryn Kronschnabel, Patron Services Librarian
Not all of the relationships we want are healthy, as explored by Mariko Tamaki in her young adult graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.
Freddy is a teenager, and - in true teenage fashion - she has fallen head over heels for a classmate named Laura Dean. In their good moments, things are really good, and Freddy has never felt happier… but in the bad moments, she might find Laura making out with another girl, or Laura might say thoughtless things that upset her. Despite their tendency to break up, they always end up back together, much to the dismay of all Freddy’s friends. This graphic novel starts right when Freddy starts to reach a pivotal point: she writes to an advice columnist asking her what to do, just as she’s experienced the worst Valentine’s Day of her life. Her attempts to get it together and understand what she needs include multiple submissions to the column, a visit to a mystic Seek-Her, and the extra advice of some new friends… but is all of this enough for Freddy to keep Laura, stop Freddy’s heart from breaking, and stop her from losing the most important people in her life?
To stop from turning this book into an advice column itself, let me be brief: not all love is created equal, nor does every relationship bring out the best in us. As I read this graphic novel, I found it easy to relate to the characters (including but not limited to Freddy) simply because I was once a teen and also wanted to experience love, regardless of how much it simultaneously hurt me. I suspect I’m not the only one who can relate - Tamaki’s rendition of Freddy’s journey, as she figures out what she wants and what she actually needs, is important for other teens to read and think about as they’re forming their own ideas of who they are and what healthy relationships look like.
Plot aside, this was also a stunningly drawn graphic novel. Instead of stark black and white or intense full color illustrations, there was instead an additional pink color tone included with the black, gray, and white spectrum that added a beautiful depth to make the story really pop. Rosemary Valero-O’Connell did an amazing job bringing the characters to life with her designs, and I can’t remember the last time I loved the drawings in a graphic novel so much.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me has a great message for anyone and is in Charles City Public Library’s physical and virtual collections for all patrons. Check it out online as an ebook via Libby, or get the physical copy today by stopping in or calling 641-257-6319!