Sunday, April 3, 2022

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki


Welcome to Hype Week, where I review all of the books that people in my feed won't shut up about for one week only. LAURA DEAN has been popping up in my feed for a while. Even though it keeps obnoxiously saying, in text, that it's like an indie rom-com, that's exactly what it feels like. The kind of movie that Michael Cera and Kat Dennings would be in. THAT type of indie movie.

Freddy is a seventeen year old Asian girl living in Berkeley, CA. She's also dating a girl named Laura Dean, who's kind of like a frick-boy in girl form. Laura uses her when she wants something and then drops her like she's hot, stringing her along, shoving her other hook-ups in Freddy's face, and basically forcing her constantly to choose between her and her friends, her and her own mental health, her and basically anything else that isn't Laura Dean.

I've actually been in an emotionally toxic relationship like this when I was young so it makes me sad to see so many people hating on Freddy for not seeing the light. When you're depressed and have low self-esteem, it can feel like you're lucky to have anyone give you the time of day, even if that person is a total jerk. I felt like Tamaki did a really good job showing how hard it can be to leave that sort of relationship, and how much personal development it takes to do so.

Some other critics have said that this feels too woke, but the California I know really is like this. People are out and proud, and they talk about their personal identities just like this. It's one of the things I love about San Francisco: the celebration of diversity. A lot of authors who don't live in California but write books here anyway make everyone white and straight and that simply isn't realistic-- of anywhere, but especially the Bay Area. So seeing that kind of rep was exceptionally lovely.

LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME is a surprisingly emotionally intense graphic novel. I'm pretty picky when it comes to YA but I think this book is really, really good.

4 out of 5 stars

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