I read the Blankets twice within a year. The first time, it was a light read as a close friend recommended it. The second time, I gave it a close read for analytical purposes as I wanted to write my thesis on it. (Talk about falling in love with a book at the first read!) And each time I finished the book the thought that popped out in my head was “Did I just finish the Blankets or did it finish me”? This is not one of your regular graphic novels with fun illustrations and a simple plot. Just like Craig Thompson’s other graphic novels, this story brings a heart-wrenching plot of two brothers who grew up in a toxic environment.
The main protagonist book is Craig from who was raised as an all too perfect Christian boy in Wisconsin. He reads the Bible everyday and whenever he’s in doubt of something that he plans to do, he finds solace in it. Later on, the story goes on and brings the painful sides of his life where -his church camp experiences that failed to serve its purpose, the bullying he endured from his peers etc. His coping mechanism for all these struggles was his skill of drawing. If these issues were not enough, his psychological conflict took a leap through his search for answers about his faith and how others view it, his quest in finding love and what it means to be Christian and in love amidst the sexual tension.
Later on, the story introduces us to Raina – Craig’s love interest whom he meets at a church camp. The two immediately bonded well and became inseparable. It was during a stay over at Raina’s house, where Craig felt the conflict of his Christian morality and hormonal sexual urges. He felt confused about what he should or should not do as he was attracted to Raina. He was scrutinizing all his momentary actions through the lens of Christian principles. This aspect of the book is my most favorite. It is because, through this story, the Blankets teaches us what we should actually value in our lives. From our teenage to adulthood we go through a lot of stages that make us question the strict societal rules created by the narrow society. These rules are mostly made valid by using the name of religion as an extreme medium.
Brutally honest. This is the phrase suitable for Thompson’s Blankets as I recommend it for all the adult readers out there (Emphasize on the adult learners only, as this book contains sexual imageries and references). The illustrations were neither too complex to look confusing, nor too simple to be considered as naive. The artwork was able to capture the right emotions of the characters in the book. It will captivate your emotions to the point that you might spend too long at one page just admiring the picture.
To conclude, the book is an amazing reading experience. It is highly recommended for people who are interested in things related to religion and relationships. Especially if you are someone who is confused with the way this world works, you will certainly be able to connect with Craig. Having said that, this graphic novel is not for those who are not fond of talking about religion and is sensitive about this issue.