Thursday, October 04, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: Blankets by Craig Thompson

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Top Shelf Productions, 2003
Nonfiction (Graphic Novel); 592 pgs

In 2006, a library patron challenged the presence of the graphic novel, Blankets, by Craig Thompson in the Marshall, Missouri Public Library, for pornographic content.  At the same hearing in which Blankets fate was in question, the library board of trustees was also considering whether or not to keep Fun Home by Alison Bechdel on the shelves. There was a large turnout of support for the books. Fortunately, for both books, the board of trustees voted to keep the books on the shelves.  

In a letter dated October 6, 2006 to the Marshall Public Library Board of Trustees, Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of the Arts Program with the National Coalition Against Censorship, wrote: 
Clearly, when they were ordered, the books met the criteria that form the basis for the library’s collection development policy. Removing the books because of sexual content not only entirely fails to consider the indisputable value of books as a whole, but also ignores the library’s obligation to serve all kinds of readers.
I read and reviewed Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic a few years ago and was moved the story.  In honor of Banned Book Week this year, I cracked open my husband’s rather large copy of Blankets.  I nearly read the book a couple of years ago, but was distracted by other books that called a bit louder from my shelves.  
From the Publisher:

At 592 pages, Blankets may well be the single largest graphic novel ever published without being serialized first. Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith. A profound and utterly beautiful work from Craig Thompson.


Blankets is a memoir, the story of Craig Thompson’s early life.  His mother was extremely religious and his father was an intimidating man.  Craig was an outsider at school, often picked on and made fun of.  Religion was a big part of his childhood and Craig struggled to understand what that meant in his life—and where he fit in.  He battled insecurity and self-doubt.  No one really seemed to understand. 

The most haunting scene in the book is when Craig comes back from being told a “joke” by the babysitter, and then his brother is led away by the babysitter, into another room.  It was never outright said what was happening, but the meaning was clear.  My heart ached for the boys. 

My favorite part, however, was when Craig met Raina and the story of their romance. I especially loved the artwork in this part of the book, the way Craig Thompson captured the emotions and thoughts in each panel.  I couldn’t help but think back to my husband’s and my early days of romance.  Raina was dealing with her own family issues at the time, most of which came to light during Craig’s visit to Raina in Michigan.  Her parents were on the verge of divorce and Raina was playing go between for her parents and taking care of her younger siblings.  Even though Craig was so caught up in Raina during that time, he got across the tension and pain of Raina’s parents and siblings so well.


Blankets is really Craig’s coming of age story.  It carries with it a wide range of emotions, at times being heartbreaking while at other times making me smile.  I felt like I really got to know Craig and understand him.  His artwork is beautiful, detailed and thoughtful.  I loved his use of imagery.  Blankets is one of those books that is hard to describe.  It is well worth taking the time to read if you get the chance.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Craig Thompson and his books on the author's website.

Source: I borrowed my husband's copy of the book to read.

See what others are reading or have to say about Banned Book Week this week! 



© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

27 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to read this book, and the only reason I can imagine for why I haven't is that my library doesn't have it. But I need to check again. I love graphic novels and I've seen nothing but good about this one.

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    1. Sandy - I hope you are able to get your hands on a copy to read! This one is definitely worth reading.

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  2. I've heard a lot of praise for Blankets, though I never really followed what the book was about. Though it does indeed seem like a difficult book to describe, it seems like it's one worth eventually reading.

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    1. Bibbibio - This is one of the top graphic novel recommendations for people who are leary about reading graphic novels and think there isn't much to them. And now I know why. It's quite a story and one worth reading if you get the chance.

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  3. I love graphic memoirs so this sounds really good to me.

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  4. Fantastic review, this is a new book to me but wow... it sounds amazing.

    Thank you for being a part of banned books week!

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    1. Sheila - Thank you! It really is good. I wish I hadn't waited so long to finally read it.

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  5. I'm not familiar with this book at all, but it sounds fantastic. I *just* requested a copy from my local library :) Thanks for reviewing this! I'm excited to read it

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    1. Jennifer - Oh good! I look forward to reading your thoughts on it after you read it.

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    2. I'm going to read it during the 24 hour readathon tomorrow! I thought a graphic novel would help break up the day. Thanks again for the recommendation, it's my first graphic novel!

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  6. Sounds like an inspiring novel, and I love that cover. I don't quite know why but to ban a memoir like this seems even worse than banning a novel as to do so somehow seems to be banning that individuals life experiences.

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    1. Petty - Isn't the cover beautiful? I love Craig Thompson's artwork. It fits the story so well.

      I don't get why anyone would want to ban a memoir either--I imagine it's more for the drawings in this case than the words. Still, banning it isn't right.

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  7. This is a book that i have heard so much about and really want to read, but have never gotten the chance to yet. It sounds powerful and haunting, but also beautiful and amazing. I am so glad that this book was not banned, and that you got the chance to read it. I need to add it to my library holds list!

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    1. Heather - It really is all those things! I think you'd really like it, Heather, and hope you get a chance to read it.

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  8. This is now my favorite graphic novel- I haven't read many but thanks to the excellent ones like this plan to read many more. I love the artwork too.

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    1. Jeane - It is my favorite too. Like you, I haven't read too many graphic novels, but this one really spoke to me.

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  9. I own this really, really want to read it .... you've convinced me to pick it up already. :)

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    1. Beth - You must! Go pull it off the shelf and read it now! The size is a bit daunting, but it's worth it.

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  10. Yay! So glad you picked this one and enjoyed it so much. And so great that you read it for banned books week :-) Reading your review reminded me of how great my experience of reading it with Ana was.

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    1. Aarti - I went back and read yours and Ana's discussion after reading the book and writing my review. I remember wanting to run out and read it at that time, but it didn't work out. I'm glad I finally was able to get to it.

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  11. I have extremely limited exposure to graphic novels-2 actually. One I liked, one not as much. Even at 592 pages, this sounds like one to try...and one that would speak to young people in a form that will appeal to those who might not pick up traditional books.

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    1. Lisa - I think you might like this one, so I hope you do give it a try. It's a story I think both young and old (and those of us in between) can relate to.

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  12. I forgot about this one and I had forgotten it was so long. Since you liked it I'll have to add it to my wish list.

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    1. Stacy - It really is good and I think you'd like it. Finding the time to read it, now that might be a challenge for you. :-)

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  13. Ooh, I loved "Blankets"! This is one of those books which I'd read and read it over again!!

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    1. Melody - I can definitely see myself coming back to it again and again!

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