Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Page by Paige

Page by Paige
by Laura Lee Gulledge
Amulet, May 2011

Before you read this review, I just want you to know what my biases are. I went to art school and hold a BFA in illustration with minors in art history and creative writing (the path Gulledge's character Paige might take, though she most definitely would be an SVA or New School kid). I want you to know this because I've observed more than my fair share of angsty art school stuff, personal comics, and feelings of isolation due to artistic difference. These sorts of things either get snuffed out in the first semester of freshman year (all it takes is the first crit to bash your ego into the ground), or the individual leaves. Because of this, I found the graphic novel annoying. Paige seems too wrapped up in her artwork, and because the book is a graphic novel, it feels that the illustrator is taking herself too seriously. Many of the images are overly dramatic (specifically the one where Paige is sewing her mouth shut), yet even outgoing characters like Jules don't exhibit much outward emotion. And talk about angst-ridden (that being said, teenagers certainly like their angst).

While Page by Paige doesn't resonate with me, I feel it will find an adoring audience of teenagers: indie-music lovers, the "arty" or sensitive kids, and anyone who feels like they don't belong (which is every teenager). The quick pace and varied framing make the book a quick read. Readers will empathize with Paige, seeing their friends, their romance, and their difficult parental relationships. The message of the book is evident, but not didactic and nicely woven into the narrative.

Shelf-talker for the book:
When Paige Turner (her parents are writers) moves from Virginia to Brooklyn, she feels lost and alone. Her first companion in this new place is her sketchbook. It is through her relationship with her sketchbook, and the drawings, doodles, and messes she makes, that she comes to learn about herself. With the support of her new friends (and boyfriend) Paige begins to define her identity and her home, while learning how to support her friends in turn.