Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell brings to life Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, a beautifully drawn graphic novel that tells the story of Frederica “Freddy” Riley and her sometimes girlfriend Laura Dean. Cool, confident and so cute, It girl Laura Dean is Freddy’s dream girl and their relationship seems perfect for the most part. Except for one little thing: Laura Dean regularly breaks up with Freddy. Following their most recent break up, Freddy seeks the help of friends, popular columnist Anna Vice and a mysterious medium that leaves Freddy with some pretty cryptic but simple advice: break up with her. How are you supposed to break up with someone that’s already dumped you?
Despite this encounter, Laura Dean keeps coming back and it doesn’t take long before their relationship spirals out of control yet again. Things grow more intense as Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s actually Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including bff Doodle, who needs her now more than ever.
There’s no point in beating around the bush, I absolutely adored Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me and would highly recommend it as a “must read” for this summer. The art on it’s own is enough to earn this book five stars. It’s so smooth and detailed yet still so character focused. I loved the fact Valero-O’Connell chose to utilize a soft pink among the black and white of her drawings. It added another gentle layer to the art that is just very pleasing to the eye. I was also pleasantly surprised to find such a physically and ethnically diverse cast of lovable, queer characters.
Another pleasant surprise was how unapologetically and openly this book delves into the topic of toxic relationships. Not to mention toxic relationships in a LGBTQ+ setting. As a teenager who think’s they’re deeply in love, it can be difficult to differentiate what’s merely a ‘quirky’ trait your partner has and what is emotional abuse. Even something like ditching your friends to constantly spend time with your significant other becomes justified in your mind. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me does an excellent job of presenting a subject that is more common among young people than is talked about. It even manages to tastefully sprinkle in additional difficult subjects like teen pregnancy and abortion.
Overall, this was a really cute and refreshing read that wasn’t what I was expecting, which is what I love so very much about it. For it’s queer representation, impactful message on the importance of friendships, learning to let go of the toxic people in your life and accepting the love you deserve, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me has earned itself a permanent spot on my bookshelf. I definitely recommend reading it!
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