Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel by Anya Ulinich
Published by: Penguin Group USA
Published on: July 29, 2014
Page Count: 368
Genre: fiction, graphic novel
My Reading Format: Paperback provided by the author via NetGalley
Available Formats: Paperback and Kindle ebook
Lena Finkle, recently divorced, is navigating a new world. She's raising her two teenage daughters on her own and she's dating for the first time since the Internet was commonplace. She chronicles her dating life in this graphic novel, nicknaming each of the men she dates, as well as her own personal journey to find fulfillment as a mother, author, teacher and significant other. She has a tough go at it. Most of the men don't work out like she hopes, even the one ex-boyfriend who has never quite left her life and with whom she finally may have a chance at love.
Before Lena Finkle, I've never read a graphic novel. Several of my students are interested in them, and this seemed like a fun one to try out first. Not that I didn't enjoy the plot, but I was surprisingly drawn to the pictures and liked the detail involved in each one. Facial expressions, for one, were really useful in telling me more about what a character was thinking a feeling. And, it was fun to have speech bubbles and thought bubbles above a character's head in the same frame. I thought the way Ulinich used a semblance of a journal-like notebook to convey flashbacks and background information was creative and great, as side notes from the forward motion of the plot that made sense visually.
While I can't say I can relate well on a personal level to Lena's life as a single mom, immigrant, author and dater, I enjoyed her story and the way Ulinich chose to tell it.
Three out of five stars