Friday, January 8, 2010

Graphic Novel Friday: "Aya" by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie

For this friday's graphic novel selection, I picked up Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. Aya was on a lot of "best of" lists, including lists from the School Library Journal, Booklist and The Washington Post.

Remembering her childhood in Abijian, located on the Ivory Coast, Marguerite Abouet presents a side of Africa that we rarely if ever get a glimpse of. Normally, we see images of starving children or people in hospitals or war and violence but we do not really see the joy and life that is there as well. Being placed on all those "best of" lists and being nominated for so many awards is well deserved, Aya is a wonderful graphic novel. The illustrations by Clement Oubrerie really bring Aya's story alive. Aya is a 19 year old who wants to do better and not get stuck in the the "C-series" (in high school, students are placed in tracks and Abouet plays off that with her reference to the C-series "combs, clothes and chasing men."). Her friends are off having fun, dancing, having sex, and being young adults, while Aya is trying to study and become a doctor. Abouet portrays how life just is - some people drink, some people get married, some people get pregnant, some people are rich, some not so rich - there is no glamourizing her childhood. Aya is just real life. It is a wonderfully engaging graphic novel that does cover some sensitive issues but not in any uncomfortable way.

It is great for a middle school, high school and also for adults. But depending on where you live, you might have a community that is a little more conservative so you should take a look at it. I did not think there was anything objectionable in it at all but after reading some listservs one never knows.

Another great plus with Aya are additions in the back! There is a great glossary "for better understanding the story". Recipes!!! (and you know I love food). Also there are instructions/illustrations for how to use a pagne and a tassaba (a long or short fabrics used for a wrap). I will have to try out the recipes - Ginger Juice and Peanut Sauce - soon and I'll let you know how that goes! Happy Friday!

Also, to read more about Marguerite Abouet, visit the Bookslut, who interviewed Abouet in 2007.

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