Are You Listening?
By Tillie Walden
First Second, 2019. 320 pgs. Young Adult Comics.
Bea is on the run, leaving behind her family and home. And then, she runs into Lou. Lou is also running away, and they are both looking for something on their long drive to nowhere. As they continue to drive strange things start to happen, and there are mysterious strangers chasing them. Will their journey provide the insights that they need and can they learn to trust each other enough to reveal their heartbreaking secrets? Walden explores a variety of themes, like trust, sexual assault, death, and betrayal in this story of finding friends in unlikely places.
Like many of Walden’s books, there are deeply poignant moments and surreal scenes that make the reader question reality. The illustrations are superb, with vibrant colors, and convey both terror and whimsy at the right moments. Walden handles delicate topics, like death, sexual assault, and growing up in sensitive, but meaningful ways that allow for personal exploration and interpretation. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Bea and Lou develop and the genuine concern that they have for each other. This is a beautiful story with colorful language, and would be good for readers who enjoy graphic novels or contemporary fiction.