Thank you, Algonquin Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of Slip for an honest review.
TW – attempted suicide, mentions of self-harm, brief depictions of self-harm scars.
While serious topics of attempted suicide and self-harm can be uncomfortable to read, they are essential to talk about and be represented in media. Especially media that includes teens and young adults. I don’t think we should hide away from mental health at any age. But, these stories work best as long as that representation is done in a light that is healthy and meant to educate. In Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya’s graphic novel Slip, Jade is getting ready to leave for art school when she learns that her best friend Phoebe has attempted suicide.
As the story progresses, we watch as Jade struggles with her friend’s choices, meets the whimsical and upbeat Mary and pours her heart and soul into ceramic monsters that come to life in the kiln. These same ceramic creatures are here to force Jade to confront her problems and greatest fears. One of which is Jade’s worry that if she grows, prospers and falls in love at the Art Farm, will she be leaving Phoebe behind? Did McCoola and Pandya’s Slip catch our eyes, or did the story fall flat?
The first thing about Slip that caught my eye but left me a tad bit disappointed was the lack of color used throughout the graphic novel. The story takes Jade to the Art Farm and deals heavily with creativity. Color could have been used as a way to create more dynamics throughout the story. However, the choice to stick with just blue and red makes it feel unfinished. While it doesn’t completely take away from the overall story, it would have greatly added to the experience.
One thing that drew me to Slip in the first place was that the story looked at how suicide impacted the people around the victim. We see how Phoebe’s choices have a rippling effect on those closest to her. However, I struggled with how Phoebe’s attempted suicide was only ever used to further Jade’s pain. Plus, her choices on how she dealt with it left me thinking so was rather selfish. I kept reminding myself that this was a coming-of-age story and that she is young, and we are given the impression that this is the first time she has dealt with suicide. But it was hard to watch her put her own struggles ahead of Phoebe’s.
The rest of Slip‘s story is good. It isn’t an upbeat read that will have you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the read at all. Outside of Jade’s struggles with Phoebe’s attempted suicide, we watch her grow with her art and learn more about herself and what she wants in life. We are also introduced to other side characters, including the love-interest Mary, who help guide her on her journey. I wish these characters had been a bit more fleshed out, but they were still important to the overall story.
In the end, I still think that McCoola and Pandya’s Slip is worth the read. It introduces conversations about topics that need to be discussed openly through media and also provides representation through its characters. Even if graphic novels aren’t something you typically reach for, this one should make your TBR list. You can pick up a copy of Slip now online and in stores. Have you read it yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and on social media.
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