Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award last year, Days of the Bagnold Summer is a poignant graphic novel by Joff Winterhart. It's about the relationship between a single mother and her 15-year-old son. The two of them are unexpectedly spending the summer together after Daniel's father backs out of their arrangement, which had been for the teen to fly from the UK to Florida for his school holiday.

Each page of the book is like a separate chapter made up of six comics panels. Sue Bagnold works at the public library and wears the same kind of sweater every day. She does her best to understand her taciturn son. Daniel Bagnold listens to heavy metal and wears a black hoodie every day. His only friend is rather annoying and Daniel longs for more of a connection.

Winterhart's closely-observed portrait of this pair is extraordinary.

Readalikes: I can't think of close matches, but Perfect Example (John Porcellino) captures a similar ennui; Tamara Drewe (Posy Simmonds) delves into the characters of a larger group of adults and teens; and The Night Bookmobile (Audrey Niffenegger) has a similar melancholy nostalgia, but includes a dark fantasy element that is absent in Days of the Bagnold Summer.

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