If you were ever a teenage girl, this graphic novel will hit you like a trident to the fucking heart. Frederica “Freddy” Riley is a 17 year old lesbian teenager who is in an on/off relationship with Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school. The only real issue is that Laura Dean can’t seem to decide if she actually wants to be with Freddy and Freddy alone, or just with Freddy when she feels like it.
We start the book with Freddy reeling from the aftermath of the last time Laura Dean broke up with her. Like so many emotionally fraught teens, Freddy often defines herself and her self worth by the amount of love and attention she receives, and when Laura dumps her, Freddy spirals into a depression. Even as Laura breaks her heart, Freddy willingly goes back to her over and over again, and their relationship is clearly toxic and feeding on the fact that Freddy feels she needs Laura in her life always, regardless of whether Laura is good for her.
While trying to figure out her love life, who she is and who is important to her, Freddy also falls into a bad spot with her best friend Doodle, who she has been ignoring because of her relationship issues taking center stage. Doodle is going through something traumatic of her own, but Freddy’s lack of noticing the world around her means she hasn’t noticed the change in Doodle.
This graphic novel was like a fucking stab in the heart. I love reading books and graphic novels geared toward teens and I feel like this is the first in a LONG time where the material actually matches what I experienced and what I consider the average teenage experience. Often teens are written as idiotic millennial/gen-z’ers, or the opposite which I call Gilmore Girls syndrome. I find many authors struggle to find that middle ground but this is an incredibly portrayal of it all. I saw so much of myself in the character of Freddy. All she wants is to be loved and showed love, but she ignores the real examples of love and support all around her because she has defined herself in relation to one person/love interest, in this case, Laura Dean. Without Laura, Freddy feels lost and confused and starts to wonder why she’s such a problem to be with, not realizing the bigger picture. It’s a true to life tale.
This isn’t so much a tale of romantic relationships and girlfriends as it is about girl friends, and how love takes many forms. Freddy has to learn who she can lean on and how she can be a good friend before she can be a good partner and when to realize she’s worth more that a second choice. This book is a fantastic and powerful display of toxic relationships that don’t involve physical abuse, but still weigh heavily on a person. It’s a must read.
The art is also STUNNING and I loved looking at every single page.
Only criticism: I really liked this book more when I thought it was “Laura Dern keeps breaking up with me” because if I even got to date Laura Dern for a DAY I’d accept whatever she gave me.
Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Three Descriptors: Honest, Relateable, Gorgeously illustrated
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