by Craig Thompson

"At night, lying on your back and staring at the snow, it's easy to imagine oneself soaring through the stars."

"Blankets" is a 580-paged autobiographical illustrated novel about one man's formative years, and his relationship with his family, his peers, and his god. 

Thompson tells the story of his growing up through text and art.  He jumps around in time a lot, telling childhood stories as they are remembered in his adolescence. He begins in his childhood days, when he shared a bed with his little brother.  The title seemed too obvious to me then - they made forts and boats out of blankets, fought over blankets, and huddled underneath blankets.  

Craig allows the reader to get to know him, and his personality straight away.  He is bullied at school.  He doesn't know how to stick up for his little brother.  He is ashamed of himself, and is not afraid to question God.  He loves drawing and doodling, he's just not sure of the point of his art. His mother is a devout Christian, and sends him to Bible camp.  Remarkably, Craig is even bullied there.  He finds a friend in a kindred spirit named Raina.  After they go back to their own hometowns in different states, Raina becomes Craig's long distance muse. 

Craig is allowed to visit Raina and her family in his senior year of high school.  Raina struggles with her family issues; her parents are getting a divorce, her older married sister is always in need of babysitting, and her two adopted siblings with Down Syndrome need care as well.  Raina presents Craig with a hand-made quilt upon his arrival.  They spend many late nights cuddled in the quilt, sharing stories and dreams. To me, this quilt was again too obvious for the title.  During these weeks, the reader gets to see more stories and memories from Craig's past as he presents them to Raina.  

Craig's story is peppered with quotes from the Bible, feelings of Christian guilt, moments of questioning and moments of clarity.  Craig struggles at times- does he feel called by God to the priesthood?  Does he believe in God at all? After wondering about the title for the entire novel, I came to realize that Craig was talking about blankets of snow that were omnipresent throughout his story.  And how he just wanted to make a mark on the world, even it was as temporary as footprints in falling snow. 

I liked this book because it was a non conventional autobiography.  I mean, there aren't many books like it out there.  Craig was honest with me, as the reader, about his life and the feelings he felt at different moments of his life.  I liked that the story jumped around in time, and that it left out the in-between bits. It was like I was looking at a photo album with Craig, and he was explaining the pictures to me. 

♥ Meg xoxo

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