For those of you who might not know what a graphic novel is, think comic book with a real story. It's a fairly new, extremely popular genre right now. Most libraries and bookstores devote at least a few shelves to the books.
But when I was sent G. Neri's new graphic novel YUMMY: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by the publicist, I was conflicted. I don't like to review books without understanding them completely. All I could think was how can I ever find anything to say about this book? What do I know about graphic novels? The last time I picked up a comic book I was 12...I don't understand the whole form.
Then I opened Yummy.
First of all, there's the story. It really will break your heart. Based on a Chicago street kid who accidentally killed a young girl in the neighborhood, the event made the cover of Time magazine.The black and white illustrations move the action along, yet give readers space to breathe. The introduction of a conflicted, 11-year-old boy narrator who wonders how this could happen to a sweet kid like Yummy (He sleeps with his teddy bear, loves cookies and candy bars- thus the nickname) was a stroke of Neri genius (he's had a bunch of those genius moves- I totally loved Chess Rumble, an earlier book).
Yummy will be a perfect discussion starter, in homes, in schools- anywhere kids or adults gather to wonder what's going on with all the violence in our society. The book is a great jumping-off place for talking about all the headlines, the TV news, the awful things that make us shake our heads and wonder How Did This Happen?
Just an amazing book. I can't get it out of my head.
Here's the book trailer: