Saturday, June 10, 2023

Saturday Morning Cartoons- Lo and Behold

Mass, Wendy and Mandez, Gabi. Lo and Behold
May 2, 2023 by Random House Graphic
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Addie's father works with virtual reality at the university level, so when he is offered a summer job at Spring Haven University, the two travel there. They live in an apartment across the hall from Professor Vargas' family, which includes Mateo, who is Addie's age. Addie's mother is not in the picture, having badly injured her leg and struggled with recuperation. We are not told exactly where she is now, but are given frequent hints that she is alive but not able to be with her family, and it's clear that some consequences of opioid addiction are involved. Addie is interested in tortoises (she was named after one), space, and also in "moon seeds" and the resultant trees that were planted in 1976 after the seeds came back from space. She suspects that one such tree is on campus and is excited about that. She is NOT excited about her dad's VR project, that takes him away from home and leaves her to her own devices for long periods of time, until she tries one of the programs. There are several students and professors working on grants for various kinds of VR experiences, but Addie really likes one that makes her feel like she is not living HER life. Her father has a VR headset at the apartment, and she spends a lot of time in the virtual world, even blowing off Mateo to play instead of hanging out with him. Eventually, she sees that this is not a great plan, and follows Mateo to the hospital to apologize. She has avoided hospitals because of her mom, but realizes that Mateo had a brother who is no longer around, which is why he volunteers. Addie steps in to help kids who don't want to go to chemo, and she and Mateo realize that havin VR available to them might help them deal with the long and boring treatments. She also makes some headway on hunting down the moon tree, gets a surprise involved with that, and makes some peace with her mother's situation. The summer is relatively short, but gives her some lasting connections. 
Strengths: I appreciated that while Addie wasn't super excited to move for the summer, she embraced the experience and didn't complain. Her hard working father is realistically portrayed; I think anything at the university level means a lot of time spent away from family. The VR information was interesting, and I liked that it was used for a lot of social situations, like creating empathy or helping children undergo chemotherapy. Mateo and Addie's friendship evolves in a realistic way. Addie's mother's opioid addiction is also very realistic. The illustration style is quite nice and will appeal to graphic novel fans. 
Weaknesses: I wish that the addiction had been explained right away instead of being introduced in such a teasing way. 
What I really think: Graphic novels really seem to hit their sweet spot when describing trauma, and this has both Mateo's brother's death as well as the issues with Addie's mother, so will go over well with fans of Telgemeier, Libenson, and Scrivan's work. There is enough story here that it would have made an excellent novel, which I would have preferred, but I will still purchase this for my library. 
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Given the story line, I also would prefer this one to be a traditional novel. I'm sure the intended audience won't feel the same. It was great the way the friendship came to be in a slow fashion. Thanks for the review.