Review of Slip

Slip Slip
by Marika McCoola; illus. by Aatmaja Pandya
High School    Algonquin    208 pp.   g
6/22    978-1-64375-249-5    $24.95
Paper ed.  978-1-61620-789-2    $17.95
e-book ed.  978-1-64375-292-1    $15.95

This graphic novel sensitively explores friendship, love, art, mental health, and self-harm. Just before Jade leaves for the Art Farm, a competitive summer intensive program that might snag her a scholarship to art school, her best friend, Phoebe, attempts suicide. Worried about Phoebe, who is now in a mental health facility, and fearing that her own clay art is simply not good enough, Jade tries desperately to focus on her Art Farm work. While searching for inspiration, she falls into a sweet summer romance with fellow artist Mary. Jade discovers that burning her drawings can create a kind of magic, replaying her memories with Phoebe in the flames. It’s cathartic—until it starts to bring the clay monsters she’s now making to life. Pandya’s illustrations are shaded white and navy except in moments of intense emotion, when scenes turn brilliant red. This device heightens the contrast between the friendly, rounded art style showing Jade’s rural summer program and her growing internal distress. Her emotional arc is compellingly messy and gut-wrenching, as she grapples with her responsibility to a friend in crisis, genuine trauma reactions, and the stresses of life as an artist. Readers will learn about the process of working with clay and grow to care about these tender, complex relationships, including Jade’s relationships to her art and to herself.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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